Photo Attorney

Jun 24, 2009

News and Information on the Google Book Settlement

Many photographers are also authors. If you published a book before January 5, 2009, your work may be subject to a class action lawsuit brought by authors and publishers, claiming that Google has violated their copyrights by scanning their books, creating an electronic database, and displaying short excerpts without the permission of the copyright holders. As a member of the class, your rights may be effected unless you take action.

As the Cornell Legal Information Institute explains, a class action "is a procedural device that permits one or more plaintiffs to file and prosecute a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group. The class members [are those] who have suffered the same wrong at the hands of the defendant but who are too numerous for the court to adequately manage the lawsuit if each class member were required to be joined as named plaintiffs." If you meet the definition of the class, then you are part of the class, even if you didn't take steps to join the class. Instead, you must "opt out" of the class if you don't want to take part.

The class action lawsuit is entitled The Authors Guild, Inc., et al. v. Google Inc., Case No. 05 CV 8136 (S.D.N.Y.) The Court has preliminarily approved a settlement. The details are available at

Some important deadlines are coming up in the settlement:
  • Claim your Books and Inserts: You can do this at any time, but in order to be eligible for Cash Payments for Books, you must complete your Claim Form on or before January 5, 2010.
  • Opt out of the Settlement:Must be submitted online or postmarked on or before September 4, 2009.
  • File an objection or notice of intent to appear at the Fairness Hearing: Must be postmarked on or before September 4, 2009.

If you're part of the settlement class, review the materials and talk with your attorney about what action you should take. To help explain what's going on with the case, the Copyright Clearance Center has posted a series of interviews, seminars, and presentations featuring leading experts who are well versed on the settlement and its various components.

This is another one of those circumstances that you must act now or forever hold your peace!