Some five months after the Google settlement's final fairness hearing, the parties still await word from the court on the landmark deal. In the only action from the court, a third delay was recently granted by Judge Denny Chin in the closely related visual artists' lawsuit against Google, which Chin, despite his recent promotion to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, is also hearing. Filings in that case have now been extended until August 9—though it is unclear what the delay might mean for the books settlement.
In a recent blog post, however, New York Law School's James Grimmelmann said he noticed something that might augur well for approval: the lack of copycat infringement lawsuits, common in such major class action lawsuits. The lack of "rival suits," Grimmelmann wrote, "signals (even if only subliminally) that the class action sharks don't think Google is a juicy enough target to be worth fighting for a piece of it. And that, in turn, could undermine objectors' arguments that the settlement seriously undervalues copyright owners' present claims against Google."
Meanwhile, inspired by Paul the Psychic Octopus, who correctly predicted the outcome of all the major matches in this year's World Cup, PW decided to take a stab at handicapping the deal's chances for approval. Unfortunately, Paul the Psychic Octopus's handlers confirmed that the octopus has retired from the predictions game. Still, a few experts were willing to take a shot at predicting—including four panelists at the recently concluded University of Maryland Center for Intellectual Property copyright symposium, whose comments are among those below.
Jonathan Band, attorney: Approved. "What's the point of being a federal circuit court judge with lifetime tenure if you don't make bold moves?"
Maria Pallante, associate register for policy and international affairs, U.S. Copyright Office: Rejected. The settlement amounts to copyright by fiat, she said, although she predicted that Judge Chin will provide a road map for a future settlement.
James Grimmelmann, New York Law School professor: Rejected. But "on a penalty kick in overtime," he noted, adding that the deal "will return in scaled-back form to win the third-place match." Up or down, Grimmelmann said, the decision "will reshape publishing."
Lateef Mtima, professor at the Howard University School of Law: Approved. The settlement achieves something Congress has been unable to accomplish, Mtima noted.
David Balto, senior fellow, Center for American Progress: Approved. Balto applauds the transformative nature of the settlement and its potential to "democratize" information.
Peter Jaszi, Georgetown professor of law: Approved. However, Jaszi observes that questions about the deal's cultural implications could linger.