Peter Brantley, settlement critic and very occasional blogger, has an interesting post connecting the settlement’s division of revenue between authors and publishers to the long-running war over who owns e-book rights. Here’s a taste:
It is not too much to suggest that the conflict over ebook rights and royalties is one of the most outstanding irritants in the transition to digital publishing. It is an irritant that has drawn the Authors Guild and authors, and the AAP and publishers, into conflict time and time again. These actions have repeatedly involved the same small circle of actors – Paul Aiken, the Executive Director of the Authors Guild; Michael Boni, class action attorney for the Authors Guild; and Richard Sarnoff, the Co-Chairman of Bertelsmann, Inc. (responsible for the acquisition of Random House), the Chairman of the AAP, and widely attributed as an architect and lead negotiator for the GBS settlement.
In some lights, the proposed settlement in the Google Book Search case is really a proposed settlement in the conflict between the Authors Guild and the AAP over the exploitation of digital rights. Google, a bystander to that particular conflict, managed to drop a convenient litigation container for a class action settlement that could be alleged to contain all authors and publishers in a common agreement. The eventual proposal attempts to bring wholly new benefits to the other parties in the suits; benefits that Google might not have even imagined when it first began the Google Print program.