Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Google books settlement an abuse of the class action process?

Pamela Samuelson has a great article on the Google book settlement in The Nation.
"The GBS agreement is, however, less a settlement of a class action lawsuit than a
forward-looking commercial joint venture that far exceeds in scope the scanning-to-index
issue being litigation. Class action settlements typically resolve only the specific dispute
between the parties. The more forward-looking the settlement, the broader its scope, the
broader the class, and the more the deal tries to release the defendant from liability for
future conduct, especially conduct different in kind from the litigated issue, the less likely
it is that judges will approve it. The GBS deal is troublesome on all four grounds.
Moreover, serious questions exist about whether the authors and publishers who
negotiated the settlement adequately and fairly represented the interests of the class as a
Update: See also Prof. Samuelson's thoughts on the politics of the negotiations involving France and Germany.

UK jails schizophrenic under RIPA

The first person to be jailed in the UK for refusing to disclose the keys to decrypt his computer files is someone with a confirmed formal dianosis of schizophrenia, according to the Register.
"The first person jailed under draconian UK police powers that Ministers said were vital to battle terrorism and serious crime has been identified by The Register as a schizophrenic science hobbyist with no previous criminal record.
His crime was a persistent refusal to give counter-terrorism police the keys to decrypt his computer files...
 News that the first person jailed for the offence of not talking in a police interview has been judged no threat to national security and suffers from a mental condition associated with paranoia and a fear of authorities is unlikely to win RIPA Part III new supporters."

WIPO Academy Workshop

I've just spent a really interesting couple of days at the WIPO Academy in Geneva at their training and design workshop for distance learning tutors and administrators.  I was there to talk about distance learning rather than IP but had some fascinating discussions with people from all over the world with a wide range and highly informed set of perspectives on the IP landscape.  There are some amazingly talented and dedicated people working within WIPO and likewise amongst their tutors from around the world. In the thick of all the complex politics and bureaucracy of the UN, these people have a really deep understanding of the issues and the importance of balance in international IP policy; and it was really interesting to hear, from the inside, of the energy underpinning the development agenda. I'll post some more collected thoughts on the workshop and the slides from my keynote address here when I get some time and space.