GBS: Macbeth without the Prince

Something’s notably missing from the fight over the Google Books settlement: rival infringement lawsuits. Many of the objections and opt-outs argue that the proposed settlement lets Google off far too lightly—but no one has stepped up to actually try their own luck by suing Google. True, the court seems disinclined to complicate the litigation while it ponders the settlement, so filing suit might be futile for the time being. But still, no one else is even threatening to take the fight to Google.

My sense is that this absence improves the settlement’s prospects. It signals (even if only subliminally) that the class action sharks don’t think Google is a juicy enough target to be worth fighting for a piece of it. And that, in turn, could undermine objectors’ arguments that the settlement seriously undervalues copyright owners’ present claims against Google.

As always, comments more than welcome.

Do you really mean Hamlet without the Prince? Or are you aiming to bring in the collateral support of the three witches who seem to be dancing round this cauldron “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” That must be the Macbeth reference for this case….

No, I mean Macbeth without the Prince. It may help to ask who the relevant prince would be.

Well that still leaves me puzzled. If its ‘Duncan’, I agree it doesnt look like he is advancing through Birnam to Dunsinane, so we are left with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in charge of the kingdom. That may be a rather brutal assessment of the merits of the Google position.

I do not know about Macbeth, but I doubt you will find a Knight to slay the American Dragons. Creeping normalcy has set in. Douglas Fevens, Halifax, Nova Scotia — The University of Wisconsin, Google, & Me

Well, since lawyers create lots of dead trees, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the Birnam Wood would arise against a lawsuit (that, ironically enough, deals with dead trees in a different way) that is approaching 1,000 docket entries.

Or, more to the point, is it about the witchy predictions (I’ve been encountering them since the early 1980s) that books are on the way out, and that we’ll get all of our text on computer screen Real Soon Now? That sounds an awful lot like anointing Google Thane of Cawdor (and Glamis)? That is, if we focus on predictions and “the future,” isn’t that Macbeth without the prince?

‘My sense is that this absence improves the settlement’s prospects.’

The settlement is not simply about money, though: it is about whether the plaintiffs are to be allowed to award copyright licences for works that do not belong to them. That is a matter of legal principle, and the absence of rival litigators affects it not at all.


Re other lawsuits isn’t, The visual artists’ case essentially a contesting bid?

As to the Scottish play. You have lost me, could you explain? The number of challengers to the plaintiffs claim of even a partial royalty right to exclusive representative status is surely enough to fill a forest or two.

Ps The end of Kurosawa’s version- ‘throne of blood’ is pretty good. Mifume’s look of fear as the arrows start to hit all around him, was real ; the first round were real, sharp arrows

The visual artists come closest, but their suit only covers non-textual material, and they haven’t shown a great deal of eagerness to plunge the knife in, as their repeated consents to Google’s requests for delays indicate.


‘Macbeth’ was a fight over ‘who’s king of the castle’.

Most of the people in the forest don’t want to move in ever.


“and they haven’t shown a great deal of eagerness to plunge the knife in,.. “

Successful insurgencies are based on denial of control. On the few occasions where they made the mistake of fighting the English in a set piece battle, the American revolutionaries came off fairly badly.

Perhaps the clothing of the figure in the forest is a bit more ‘home-spun’?


If you think we Americans are making home-grown intellectual parallels … well I confess the whole Hamlet parallel baffles me. But as for home-grown, both the actions and the rhetoric of the Google Settlement are very much like many historical American grabs of land and other resources from Native Americans and other parties who were felt to be not “using” them sufficiently, and too powerless to fight the grab effectively.

Frances A interesting question raised by the Macbeth analogy is; Just who is playing the role of lady Macbeth?

James didn’t say ‘Hamlet without the Prince’, he said ‘Macbeth without the Prince’.

This may help:

… Macbeth
Is ripe for shaking, and the Powers above
Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may;
The night is long that never finds the day.

(IV iii 237–240)


GBS has a touch of the ‘timeless era’ Test Matches about it. I can sort of picture: ‘Umpire Chin’; standing behind the stumps waiting on the first delivery of the tenth day of interminable play , worrying about missing the boat home.

James - The end of Macbeth is a comeback story. By ‘Prince’ do you mean ‘fair use’?


A better story title for GBS , could be “The Battle of the Books”. If Justice chin’s role was played by Aesop , who would he award the laurels to? Would the laurels go to the spider and his web, made entirely of his own creation (and a few dead flies) . Or would the laurels go to the honey bee ‘who harms no one as she flits from flower to flower ‘? Mr Chin will surely need of some honey and wax when it comes to judgement.