Sarnoff Leaves Bertelsmann – No GBS Negotiators Left

The Wall Street Journal reports that Richard Sarnoff, former head of Random House/Bertelsmann and the lead negotiator of the Google Books Settlement for the American Association of Publishers, is leaving his post.  As Authors Guild’s Roy Blount has departed, Google’s Alex Macgillivray is now with Twitter and Dan Clancy is now working on YouTube, all of the negotiators of the GBS on both sides have moved on from their former positions.

So now, each of the key players in the GBS negotiations are gone, and in the event that the GBS is approved, there will be no one with firsthand knowledge of the incredibly complex issues at stake around to implement it.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the legal prospects of the proposed settlement – or its promise as a rights registry.

This development comes as we fast approach a critical deadline for authors whose material was appropriated by Google’s book scanners without their permission.  While the negotiators may be gone, these authors (who are the real key players in this entire issue) will lose their right to claim a cash payment from Google for its unauthorized digitization of their work on March 31st if they do not submit a claim.

The negotiators might have moved on to other things, but we are certain that many of these authors, who may or may not know about this rapidly approaching deadline, have not.

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What Experts Are Saying About the Settlement…

Important Dates

December 14, 2009
Notice begins

January 28, 2010
Deadline for authors to opt out of the settlement

January 28, 2010
Deadline to file objections and/or amicus briefs

February 4, 2010
Deadline to file notice of intent to appear at Fairness Hearing

February 4, 2010
DOJ response

February 11, 2010
Plaintiffs move for final approval

February 18, 2010
Final Fairness Hearing

March 31, 2011
Deadline to claim Books and Inserts