Pamela Samuelson Speaks on 'Law in the Information Age'
Pamela Samuelson, a leading scholar in the fields of digital copyright law, intellectual property, cyberlaw, and information policy, spoke on issues related to the proposed settlement in Authors Guild et al v. Google in the Annual Law in the Information Age Lecture in King Hall's Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom on October 14.
The lecture was an inaugural event of and co-sponsored by the new UC Davis Center for Science and Innovation Studies. The event was preceded by a meeting at the Law School of the Bay Area Intellectual Property Professors group. Attendees came from the UC Berkeley School of Law, McGeorge Law School, and Google, Inc.
After a brief introduction from Professor Mario Biagioli, a new member of the King Hall faculty who also serves as founding Director of the UC Davis Center for Science and Innovation Studies, Samuelson, the Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law UC Berkeley School of Law and Director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, delivered a lecture entitled "Is the Google Book Settlement the Copyright Reform We Need?"
Her talk focused on the implications of the proposed Google settlement, which stems from a 2005 class action suit filed against Google by authors and publishers associations. The groups alleged copyright infringement based on the company's plan to digitize and publish online millions of books without permission from copyright holders. In 2008, Google agreed to pay a $125 million settlement, which is awaiting court approval.
Samuelson suggested that the settlement, if enacted, "would achieve some copyright reform, some of it laudable," especially given that legislative reform of copyright law is long overdue and unlikely to be achieved by Congress in the near future.
However, she characterized herself as a "vocal critic" of the settlement, asserting that it lacks sufficient checks and balances, and questioned whether litigation of a narrow set of concerns is a legitimate means to achieve broad reform. The agreement would bind millions of copyright holders to an extraordinarily complex commercial agreement in which the payouts would be governed by a yet-to-be-formed organization dominated by the litigants, she said. She closed by encouraging legal scholars to contribute to an ongoing dialogue aimed at producing comprehensive copyright reform.
"Law in the Information Age" video