It’s official: Google’s yet-to-be-approved settlement with authors and publishers over its digital library project is coming under heavy fire. First came the news last month of a challenge by a coalition of tech heavyweights: Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo. The Department of Justice and certain state attorneys general are also reportedly scrutinizing the deal. Now, the Republic of Germany has let its objections be known in a court filing in federal district court in Manhattan. Here’s the story from Dow Jones.
In Germany’s brief, Theodore Max of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton writes that Google’s settlement with the Author’s Guild, reached last year to settle a class action suit filed in 2005, will have an impact on German authors, publishers and libraries. Germany, he writes, is “Das Land der Dichter und Denker” — the land of poets and thinkers — and he argues that none of the German parties allegedly affected by the deal were represented adequately. On top of that, the settlement is in conflict with German laws and a national (noncommerical) project to put its books into a digital library, according to the brief.
“Although the settlement on its face purports only to apply to works under United States copyright law, the settlement, by its sweeping grant of rights and immunities to defendant Google, will irrevocably alter the landscape of international copyright law by impacting the rights of German authors, publishers, and digital libraries not only within the U.S. borders but also beyond to undermine the traditional contours of internationally accepted copyright standards and values,” Max writes.
In a statement, Google said: “The German government has filed a brief in U.S. court raising concerns about our settlement with authors and publishers on the basis of German law. We don’t agree since the scope of our U.S. settlement is limited to the U.S. and comes under U.S. law and only U.S. readers will benefit. Of course, we will listen carefully to all concerns and will work hard to address them. Our goal remains bringing millions of the world’s difficult-to-find, out-of-print books back to life.”
This article first appeared on The Am Law Litigation Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.