My previous post about the Palmer Kane case has gotten me wondering how the Google Books class deals with copyright owners similarly situated to Palmer Kane. The now-rejected settlement had an extensive class definition with numerous exceptions and defined terms. But the class Judge Chin certified is much simpler:
All persons residing in the United States who hold a United States copyright interest in one or more Books reproduced by Google as part of its Library Project, who are either (a) natural persons who are authors of such Books or (b) natural persons, family trusts or sole proprietorships who are heirs, successors in interest or assigns of such authors. “Books” means each full-length book published in the United States in the English language and registered with the United States Copyright Office within three months after its first publication. Excluded from the Class are the directors, officers and employees of Google; personnel of the departments, agencies and instrumentalities of the United States Government; and Court personnel;
I’m curious about the language I’ve highlighted. I assume that the intention here is to restrict the class to people who are either listed as authors on the registration certificate or can show a chain of title from the author. Does this language exclude the authors of what would have been called Inserts under the settlement? What about the creators of visual material licensed for inclusion in a book, as in Palmer Kane? Among other things, I’m trying to make sure this class doesn’t automatically sweep in the visual artists who have their own pending lawsuit against Google. I don’t think it does, but I confess that I’m not entirely sure. I invite your thoughts about the class definition and what it covers.