Extending notice on the Google Book Search settlement

Last October, we announced a settlement agreement regarding Google Book Search that resolves class action lawsuits first filed in 2005 by the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers. Last Friday, along with the authors and the publishers, we submitted a letter to the court asking for permission to extend what's called the "notice period" for an extra 60 days.

So what exactly does "notice" mean? Notice is an important part of due process. It helps inform class members of their rights under the proposed settlement and gives them a chance to opt out if they wish to. If you've ever received a letter in the mail from a credit card company or product manufacturer informing you that you're entitled to compensation under a class action, then you get the idea of what "notice" is about.

It's pretty easy for credit card companies to contact their cardholders -- they send bills to them all the time. The world's authors, publishers and their heirs are much more difficult to find. So, as the New York Times recently reported, the plaintiffs hired notice campaign specialists Kinsella Media Group to tell them about this exciting settlement, and Google has devoted millions of dollars to fund this notice campaign. Kinsella started by launching a website for authors and publishers and a direct-mail effort. Beginning in January, Kinsella published ads in newspapers and other publications all over the world from Fiji to the Cook Islands to Greenland. And of course, they also placed ads right here at home in the U.S., in publications as diverse as Writer's Digest and USA Today.

The settlement is highly detailed, and we want to make sure rightsholders everywhere have enough time to think about it and make sure it's right for them. That's why we've asked the court for permission to extend the opt-out deadline for an extra 60 days.

Update as of 04/28/09: The court has to decided to extend the opt-out deadline until September 4, 2009.