Congress Investigates the Google Book Settlement
*If you don't know what the hell is going on here, listen to this first*

Congress will be convening a special, surprise hearing on the Google Book Settlement today at 10 AM, if you are sitting around in your house in your underwear with a fly swatter in one hand and a beer in the other and you feel like listening to a flinty cabal of elderly plutocrats decide the future of all publishing.



The trembling stalwarts who will be deciding the permanent future of America's digital book rights are the same people who pick up the mouse between clicks, always use "delete" instead of "backspace," and wait patiently for more whenever they hear the words "slashdot," thinking that it is the beginning of a string of Morse Code.

The hearing will be called "Competition and Commerce in Digital Books," and will feature expert witness testimony from Amazon, the Author's Guild, Google, the National Federation of the Blind, Consumer Watchdog, the Center for American Progress, the U.S. Copyright Office, and the University of Chicago Law School.

No actual writers of books will give testimony before Congress about the Google Book Settlement. You know, like how the accused in military tribunals are tried while they are locked up in some pit with a black bag over their head.

"Now oo's the writer, guv? Eh? Now oo's the writer? Where's yer big pritty pen to write wiff now? Eh? Eh?"

The last day to opt out of the Settlement and file objections to the Settlement's terms was on Tuesday. Now everybody who is in it, is in it for keeps.

Here's the general breakdown so far of the Settlement's two camps:

(as it currently stands)

"The Authors Guild"
The Association of American Publishers
Publisher's Weekly
Some blind people
Franklin W. Dixon
Charles Manson
A floating bloodshot eyeball as big as your fist, man
People who work on Wall Street
Evil animals, like jackals and cholera
Cold oatmeal
Hospital bills
A fat man in a nice suit who can't stop laughing and has a pinky ring worth your last fifty paychecks
Bat wings
Melted candy
Kidney stones

(as it currently stands)

The American Society of Journalists
The Council of Literary Magazines
The Internet Archive
The National Writers Union
The New York Library Association
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Small Press Distribution
The Special Libraries Association
The Estate of Philip K. Dick
The Estate of John Steinbeck
The Fiction Circus
A little girl with a lisp who wants to grow up to be just like you
People who work in Wall Street coffee shops
Tired, hard-working construction workers who are saving up to put their kids through college
Maya Angelou
Good animals, like cats and sparrows
Funny jokes
Winning lottery numbers that you read over and over again, your face turning white, not believing what you are holding in your hand
Elvis Presley
John Lennon
Tupac Shakur
The humble citizens of both Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues

The latest group to come out against the Settlement is the publishing company Hachette, owned by Lagardere, who famously publish the unstoppable Stephenie Meyer and who are therefore one of the only profitable publishing companies in the business.

From "The Bookseller":

"Hachette warned that by settling the matter through US courts alone, to the exclusion of other countries' judicial systems and market forces, it would allow "a sweeping transfer of rights from current rights holders worldwide to Google".

"The company also argued against the format of the settlement, which precludes class members from suing Google, "thereby releasing Google and others from liability for future conduct, which would otherwise constitute copyright infringement". Hachette said it was an unprecedented move, and improper, to "impose" this settlement through a judicial process."

The courts are currently deliberating over all the objections they received on Tuesday and will reach a verdict about the Settlement as soon as all the evidence has been weighed. The Justice Department's antitrust investigation is also still pending.

The longer that this process takes, and the more people who look into the Settlement's provisions, the worse it will be for Google and the "Author's Guild."

This is all very exciting. No one knows what will happen in the end and who will end up with who.

Posted by miracle on Thu, 10 Sep 2009 10:29:56 -0400 -- permanent link

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