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Federal Judge Rejects Google Book Settlement

posted by Committee on Intellectual Property


Federal Judge Denny Chin rejected the Google Book Search Copyright Class Action Settlement, better known as the Google Book Settlement, on March 22, 2011. Citing copyright, antitrust, and other concerns, he stated that the settlement went too far and would have granted Google a monopoly over information without the permission of copyright owners. The US Justice Department and other groups were similarly concerned that the settlement would have given Google exclusive rights to profit from so-called orphan works, books whose right holders are unknown or cannot be found. Download a PDF of Chin’s ruling.

The original lawsuit, Authors Guild, Inc., et al. v. Google Inc., had been settled in November 2008 with an amendment approved in November 2009, but this Amended Settlement Agreement will not go forward as stated. Chin left open the possibility for a revised settlement, suggesting that authors opt in rather than opt out. A second class-action suit for copyright infringement brought by visual artists, who had been excluded as plaintiffs in the first suit, is still pending.

Many print and online publications have discussed the decision, its effects, and possible next steps. A selection of recent news and opinion pieces published by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Slate, and Inside Higher Ed, among others, can be found below. Several articles note that the judge’s decision gives Congress the opportunity to reconsider orphan-works legislation, which CAA has supported in the past. In addition, Roger Darnton, a librarian and professor at Harvard University, and others encourage the creation of a universal digital library, available to all.

Articles and Editorials

Jonathan Band, “A Guide for the Perplexed Part IV: The Rejection of the Google Books Settlement,” Library Copyright Alliance, March 31, 2011, http://www.librarycopyrightalliance.org/bm~doc/guideiv-final-1.pdf.

Robert Darnton, “A Library without Walls,” NYR Blog (blog), New York Review of Books, October 4, 2010, http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2010/oct/04/library-without-walls/.

Robert Darnton, “Six Reasons Google Books Failed,” NYR Blog (blog), New York Review of Books, March 28, 2011, http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/mar/28/six-reasons-google-books-failed/.

Editorial, “Google’s Book Deal,” New York Times, March 30, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/opinion/31thu2.html.

Amir Efrati and Jeffrey A. Tractenberg, “Judge Rejects Google Books Settlement,” Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704461304576216923562033348.html.

Miguel Helft, “Judge Rejects Google’s Deal to Digitize Books,” New York Times, March 23, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/technology/23google.html.

Miguel Helft, “Ruling Spurs Effort to Form Digital Public Library,” New York Times, April 3, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/04/technology/04library.html.

Jennifer Howard, “Judge Rejects Settlement in Google Books Case, Saying It Goes Too Far,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 22, 2011, http://chronicle.com/article/Judge-Rejects-Settlement-in/126864.

Steve Kolowich, “Google Who?”, Inside Higher Ed, March 28, 2011, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/03/28/usag.

Steve Kolowich, “Please Refine Your Search Terms,” Inside Higher Ed, March 23, 2011, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/03/23/judge_rejects_google_books_settlement.

Claire Cain Miller, “Book Ruling Cuts Options for Google,” New York Times, March 23, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/business/media/24google.html.

Jeffrey A. Tractenberg, “Google Book Deal Faces Big Hurdle,” Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703362904576218951641845230.html.

Siva Vaidhyanathan, “Google Block,” Slate, March 23, 2011, http://www.slate.com/id/2289155.



Google Book Settlement Filing Deadline Extended

posted by Betty Leigh Hutcheson


The official Google Book Settlement website recently posted an update that extends the deadline to file for an upfront payment in the Google Book Search Copyright Class Action Settlement. Authors whose works were scanned by Google on or before May 5, 2009, may be entitled to claim a cash payment once the amended settlement is approved. The former deadline was March 31, 2011. The new deadline is one year after the approval of the settlement—a date yet to be determined.

The lawsuit, titled Authors Guild, Inc., et al. v. Google Inc. (Case No. 05 CV 8136, S.D.N.Y.), was brought by authors and lawyers who claim that by scanning books still under copyright for the Google Books Library Project, Google violated the creators’ rights. The federal court originally approved a settlement to the lawsuit in November 2008, and then preliminarily approved an amended settlement in November 2009.

A second class-action suit for copyright infringement was brought against Google in April 2010 by visual artists excluded as plaintiffs in the first suit, including the American Society of Media Photographers, several other photography associations, the Graphic Artists Guild, and independent photographers and illustrators. The outcome of this case (No. 10 CV 2977, S.D.N.Y.) will be determined after the settlement of the first case.

What does the extended deadline mean for authors and publishers? According to the Google Book Settlement website, if “you did not previously opt out of the Original Settlement and do not opt out of the Amended Settlement, you are ‘in’ the Amended Settlement,” and you can claim your copyrighted material. The website contains all documents related to the settlement and forms and instructions for registering your work. The Authors Guild also publishes updates about the settlement.

CAA will publish an additional notice once the new deadline is established.




Over the last decade, artists and educators have become acutely aware of the environmental and health repercussions of their studio endeavors. How have the serious consequences for personal health and the environment, as well as the legal and ethical responsibilities of institutions of higher education, shaped individual studio practice and the teaching of visual art? This session will examine the wide-ranging responses of artists working today and offer practical solutions for artists to safely create work without sacrificing their vision. We invite proposals for twenty-minute presentations about individual experiences, personal or institutional, dealing with these pressing matters.

This session will be part of ARTspace at the 2011 CAA Annual Conference in New York. Initiated in 2001, ARTspace has grown into one of the most vital and exciting aspects of the annual meeting, with programming is designed by artists for artists that is free and open to the public. Working in tandem with its affiliated programs, the Media Lounge and ARTexchange, ARTspace promotes dialogue about visual-arts practice, its relation to critical discourse, professional-development programming, and opportunities for the creative exchange of ideas.

Interested parties should submit a one-hundred-word abstract and a fifty-word autobiography in a single Word document to session cochairs Brian Bishop and Mark Gottsegen. Deadline: October 1, 2010.




CAA joined with artists and other arts-support organizations in filing an amicus brief asking the US Supreme Court to grant a petition to review a case involving an artwork removed from public view in San Marcos, Texas. In that case, Kleinman v. City of San Marcos, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the First Amendment only protects “great” works of art.

The brief explains how this new, “great” art standard is inconsistent with the First Amendment and would give governments the ability to ban disfavored art and contemporary art that has not yet become iconic. It points out that whether art is “great” art is not susceptible to an objective, value-neutral determination, but would require courts to act as art critics based on expert evidence of what constitutes “greatness” in art. The brief also highlights a number of examples of artists and art whose work was not initially regarded as “great,” but only became so over time. For all of these reasons, the brief argues, the new and unprecedented “great” art standard of the Fifth Circuit is troubling, and the Supreme Court should review and reverse the appellate decision.

Background

In the city of San Marcos, Texas, participants at a charity event for the opening of a store, Planet K, were invited to smash up an old car. The car was then converted into a cactus planter and painted on the exterior by two local artists, with scenes from San Marcos, abstract designs, and the phrase “Make Love, Not War.” The stated intention of one of the petitioners, Michael Kleinman, organizer of the event and owner of the store, was always to turn the wrecked car into an artwork. The resulting artwork was displayed on private property (the Planet K parking lot) and was easily visible to the public from thoroughfares.

A San Marcos ordinance prohibits, as a public nuisance, any display of a “junked vehicle” that can been seen by the public. Based on the First Amendment—that their artwork is protected speech—Kleinman and the artists sued the city, to enjoin it from applying the ordinance to their artwork. The US District Court for the Western District of Texas found for the city. The court held that the ordinance did not violate the First Amendment, as applied to plaintiffs’ artwork, because they had alternative avenues of communicating their message.

This past February, the Fifth Circuit affirmed that decision. It first questioned whether the wrecked car/planter/artwork could be considered constitutionally protected expression. In particular, the appeals court read a prior Supreme Court decision to indicate that the First Amendment protects only “great” works of art, and that the Supreme Court has not otherwise set out the First Amendment framework to be applied to visual works of art. The Fifth Circuit also went on to hold that even if the First Amendment did apply in this case, under prevailing standards the city’s nuisance law could apply to the artwork. After the decision of the Fifth Circuit, the city seized and removed—but has not yet destroyed—the artwork.

The artists filed a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court, requesting that the court review the decision of the Fifth Circuit. There are several grounds for the petition, one of which is that “great art” should not be the test for whether an artwork is protected by the First Amendment.

First Amendment protection for works of art has long been a core concern of CAA and important to its advocacy program. In the last Supreme Court term, CAA joined the National Coalition Against Censorship in filing an amicus brief in the case of United States v. Stevens. In that case, the Supreme Court ultimately held, 8–0, that the federal statute criminalizing depictions of animal cruelty violated the First Amendment, agreeing with the position taken by CAA in its brief. Earlier, CAA joined an amicus brief in the NEA Four case (National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley), in which the Supreme Court ultimately held, in 1998, that it was not unconstitutional for Congress to mandate that the National Endowment for the Arts take into account “general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public” when funding artists.

Other Signers to the Brief

The amicus brief to which CAA is a party was filed on July 8, 2010. The other signers are: Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts; Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts (formerly Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts); Northwest Lawyers and Artists (Portland, Oregon); Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; ArtCar Fest; the artist historian Douglas Nickel; and artists Butch Hancock, Kelly Lyles, Leo Aston, Alan Pogue, Jan D. Elftman, Philo Northrup, Harrod Blank, Emily Duffy, and Graydon Parrish.

Downloads

Download a PDF of the Kleinman amicus brief. A second PDF contains the petition for certiorari, the District Court and Fifth Circuit opinions, and, at the end of the file, photographs of the artwork in question.



Rose Art Museum to Lease Works from Its Collection

posted by Christopher Howard


The latest development at Brandeis University, which early last year decided to close the Rose Art Museum and sell its prized collection of modern art, is to lease works from its collections through a partnership with the auction house Sotheby’s. Selling works from the museum to alleviate the school’s recession-shattered endowment, critics say, is not off the table. The Rose collection ranges from classics by Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg to more recent works by Dana Schutz, whose first museum exhibition was held at the Rose in 2006.

“The talks between Sotheby’s and Brandeis started a year ago,” writes Ellen Howards of the Boston Herald, but school officials cannot “predict which institutions might lease the art, which works could be made available or what sum a leasing deal would generate.”

A Boston Globe editorial proclaims that “Brandeis should only lend to institutions capable of caring for its artworks. And it should use any revenues to guarantee a future for the Rose.” In a bold statement, the paper also suggests that the university “deserves praise, not criticism, for trying to raise revenue through its collection.”

Geoff Edgars, also of the Boston Globe, offers recent precedents for the Rose’s controversial move: the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta have all rented artworks to other museums and institutions.

In addition, last week Brandeis announced the hiring of a new president, Frederick M. Lawrence, dean of George Washington University Law School. He will fill the position to be vacated by Jehuda Reinharz, who was responsible for the ill-fated idea to close the museum and sell its art, in January 2011.




The Center for Social Media, part of the School of Communication at American University in Washington, DC, has published the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication. Patricia Aufderheide, the center’s director, and Peter Jaszi, a professor of law at the university’s Washington College of Law and head of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, worked with an ad hoc committee on fair use and academic freedom assembled by the International Communication Association to write the text.

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication is targeted to the work of communications scholars, which draws on the empirical research methods of the social sciences and the qualitative studies of the humanities.

Like their counterparts in other academic areas, including art and art history, communications scholars are often unsure of their rights under United States copyright law. The new best practices give them general information about fair use and describe four situations in which it usually applies: analysis, criticism, and commentary of copyrighted works; quoting copyrighted material for illustration; using copyrighted work to stimulate response, discussion, and other reactions during research; and storing copyrighted material in personal collections and archives.

For more on how copyright relates to art and art history, please visit CAA’s website section on Intellectual Property and the Arts.




On April 20, 2010, the US Supreme Court struck down, on First Amendment grounds, a federal statute (18 U.S.C. § 48 ) that criminalized the commercial sale, dissemination, and possession of depictions of animal cruelty, as well as of acts showing the wounding or killing of animals. The decision in United States v. Stevens endorses rights of free expression, especially as they relate to the sale and distribution of images. In summer 2009, CAA joined with the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) in filing a friend of the court brief that urged the court to strike down the law.

The Stevens case involved an appeal of a conviction on charges that the defendant had sold videos of dog fighting. The court’s 8–1 decision (only Justice Samuel Alito dissented) held that the law was overbroad because it swept in the commercial sale and use of images clearly protected by the First Amendment, including acts of hunting that were lawful in one state but unlawful in another, as well as various other activities in which animals may be wounded or killed. The court noted that its decision only protects the depictions of activities involving animals, and does not affect the criminalization of cruelty to animals.

As NCAC and CAA emphasized in their brief, CAA in no way supports cruelty to animals. Although the statute allowed for exceptions, for representations that had “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value,” CAA was concerned that this exception would allow courts to make decisions whether a challenged work had such value. So, for example, while one court may agree that an animal-rights video that documents atrocious conditions in a factory farm is political speech and therefore legally permissible, another court, unaware of particularly aesthetic approaches, may see an artist’s sale of a work dealing with the same imagery as outside the exception and thus prohibited by the statute. In addition, CAA was concerned that if the court had held § 48 constitutional, that would set a precedent for Congress to expand the categories of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment, potentially including various types of artistic speech.

CAA filed its brief not only because § 48 had a potential direct affect on artistic creation of works that use animals, as well as the reproduction of those works and of other images depicting animals, but also because the possibility that other categories of speech could be criminalized could result in limiting the expression of CAA members as artists and teachers. The US Supreme Court endorsed the position taken by CAA in its brief.

The Art Newspaper recently reported on the decision. You may also read more about CAA’s position on US v. Stevens and download a PDF of the NCAC and CAA brief.




Several organizations, including the American Society of Media Photographers, the Professional Photographers of America, and the Graphic Artists Guild, have filed a class-action lawsuit against Google, claiming that by scanning millions of books the internet company has infringed on their members’ copyrights and failed to compensate them for their work.

According to Miguel Helft of the New York Times, the new lawsuit is separate from the Google Book Settlement between the company and a consortium of individuals and authors’ organizations. That decision is pending in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Helft writes, “Google’s settlement with authors and publishers largely excluded photographs and other visual works. Legal experts said it was not unexpected that Google would face claims from groups that were not part of the original case and are not covered by it.”




The Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), a federal agency in the Executive Office of the President, seeks opinions on how the federal government should enforce copyrights and handle infringements. In a two-part survey, IPEC not only solicits written submissions about economic costs associated with intellectual-property violations, but also requests specific recommendations on how such violations can be dealt with. All comments should be sent by email.

Public Knowledge, a digital-issues interest group based in Washington, DC, writes, “The request for comments seems geared to take in complaints from big media companies and other major holders of copyrights, patents, and trademarks,” but also that it is “open to everyday consumers, citizens, and members of the public.”

An area that art historians may wish to address, for example, is the way that copyright controls on images have made it difficult for electronic texts to include copyrighted art images. For artists, an area of concern is the high cost of registering copyright in a visual image, and lack of good bulk registration tools at the US Copyright Office for visual-image rights holders.

Read more about the issue on the Public Knowledge website, which also includes a sample letter that you can tailor to your needs. Deadline: 5:00 PM on March 24, 2010.




The Association for Information and Media Equipment, a group of educational film and video producers and distributors dealing with copyright issues related to libraries, universities, and media centers, has threatened to sue the University of California, Los Angeles for streaming copyrighted video content on course websites. UCLA is claiming fair use, but the issue—involving royalty payments, academic-subsidized research, and current copyright law—is much more complex.

Steve Kolowich of Inside Higher Ed reports that negotiations between the organization and the school are private, and a debate about the legality of libraries making digital copies of DVDs it owns for wider dissemination to students has arisen. In his article Kolowich talks to librarians, professors, and media-industry experts to provide a larger, if not clearer, picture of what is at stake.

February 5 update: J. B. DeVries of Academic Impressions discusses policy issues when dealing with streaming video.




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