Blumenthal takes on Google library settlement

By John O'Brien | Sep 15, 2009


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says a proposed settlement with Google will violate state law governing charities and unclaimed property.

Blumenthal filed his concern with the U.S. District Court of Southern New York, over the structure of a deal between Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. Google plans to create an online library.

Unclaimed funds generated by the library would be appropriated to authors and publishers by the Book Rights Registry. The Registry would have unlawful discretion to distribute funds generated from works where the copyright holder can't be located, Blumenthal said.

"The riches produced by creative work belongs to the creator - or as the creator may have intended through charitable trusts," Blumenthal said.

"This settlement must be amended to protect creative rights - as well as our state charities laws. When authors bequeth proceeds of their hard work to charity, this settlement fails to ensure that the Registry respects their intent."

The $125 million settlement would resolve the case filed by the Authors Guild and the AAP.

Blumenthal feels it should be modified to ensure unclaimed funds are distributed by only the trustee or charitable institution that holds the property, the charitable beneficiary of the property or the state attorney general on behalf of public interest. The Registry does not have standing to apply for such action, he said.

"Under state law, my legal responsibility is to protect donor intent whenever it is disregarded -- as is happening here," he said.

"When authors and other creators die, they may bequeath the monetary benefits of their creations to charitable interests -- purposes that must be protected and preserved. Enriching entities or individuals completely unrelated to creative works, particularly where proceeds should serve a charitable interest, is unfair and unacceptable."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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