The Google Book Project settlement could be facing
a new roadblock. Author and class action attorney Scott Gant filed a class action suit this week in Manhattan alleging that the settlement is forcing millions of authors to accept a deal to use their work that they know nothing about.
The latest objection, filed with the Manhattan court today, comes from a Washington-based lawyer and writer who specialises in class-action law and monopolies. In his 47-page complaint, Scott Gant argues that potentially millions of authors in America and around the world are being coerced into accepting the deal without being fully informed about its implications.
"Anyone taking part in this project should be doing so as a conscious choice to participate knowing fully what they are doing. In fact, people are being forced to hand over to Google some of their intellectual property often with no understanding of what that means," Gant said.
Under US class-action law, authors and publishers who do not specifically opt out of the settlement are deemed to have signed up to it. But Gant points out that as an author himself — he wrote a book on the digital information revolution called We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age — he has never received any legal notice about the case.
Other opponents of the deal include the National Writers Union and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Eighteen professors within the University of California system have also written to the court objecting that the settlement fails to protect the interests of academic authors and puts profit before the public's right to information.
Many groups have filed objections to the settlement, and it has not yet been approved by the court. It is an extremely important case that will have long term ramifications on authors, libraries and readers for the foreseeable future.