As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Google reached a settlement with publishers and authors to finally bring the Dewey Decimal System into the digital age.
Most lay people think that lawyers serve an annoying, anti-common sense role in society. But every now and again lawyers perform the important function of keeping “the law” safe from the forces of the free market and human progress.
Google wants to digitize the collections of the world’s greatest libraries in order to make them searchable. This is called “progress” and desperately needs to happen. But authors and publishers also need to protect their works — and make money off of them, if possible.
This issue demanded an out of court settlement, and lawyers from Keker, Debevoise, and other firms got the job done.
Under the settlement:
Authors and publishers will get 63 percent of revenue generated by Google’s electronic book database from the sale of online books and advertising. As part of the $125 million, Google will pay $34.5 million to set up the Book Rights Registry, which will collect the money and give it to the copyright owners. Another $45 million will go to authors and publishers that had their books uploaded without permission. Plaintiffs lawyers will take home $30 million.
Mmmm … fairness: the kind of fairness that cannot often be achieved through trial. Authors and publishers get 63% of the revenue (which, when you break it down will probably come out to 2 Lincolns per title). But, much more importantly, they will get the publicity that comes when people can actually read their book that is no longer popular enough to print. Google can then go about the business of bringing the entire digital world under their imperial control. And the lawyers got paid off too.
And nobody had to come up with a ridiculous “fair use” precedent that could have crippled the rights of authors for years to come.
Yay attorneys, yay settlements.
Major Universities See Promise in Google Book Search Settlement [Authors Guild]