New York, NY (May 5, 2009)—New York Law School today announced the launch of the Public Interest Book Search Initiative, a new program developed to foster public discussion about the law and policy of digitizing books, making them searchable, and distributing them online.
The new initiative reinforces New York Law School’s leading role in the academic study of the future of publishing and will be led by Professor James Grimmelmann, a recognized expert on copyright law and the Authors Guild v. Google lawsuit. Professor Grimmelmann is often quoted in the media about the lawsuit, and his article “How to Fix the Google Book Search Settlement” is the most frequently cited and discussed analysis of the proposed settlement.
The issue of digitizing books and putting them online is at the center of this $125 million lawsuit, currently pending in a federal court in New York. In the lawsuit, authors and publishers sued Google for copyright infringement in its Google Book Search program, which has been scanning and indexing millions of books from the collections of major libraries. Google and the copyright owners announced a controversial proposed settlement in October 2008; the court recently granted a four-month delay to allow more time for discussion and analysis of the proposal.
“The delay means that the court wants to see a full and informed conversation about this extraordinarily important issue,” Professor Grimmelmann said. “We’re looking forward to using these next four months to help realize that vision of dialogue and understanding.”
The key components of the Public Interest Book Search Initiative are: a Web site for discussion of the proposed settlement, an open-source amicus brief, and a conference on the settlement. New York Law School students will work on these projects under the guidance of Professor Grimmelmann—a collaboration typical of the project-based learning found at the Law School, which provides students opportunities to bridge the gap between theory and real-life experience. A grant from Microsoft will provide support for the Initiative.
Later this May, the Law School will introduce The Public Index, a Web site that will feature discussion forums, a comprehensive archive of settlement documents and related commentary, and a tool for users to insert their analysis and commentary on individual paragraphs of the proposed settlement.
“The Public Index will respond to the enormous public interest in the lawsuit by providing both high-quality information about the issues and a forum for the public to the make their own voices heard,” Professor Grimmelmann said.
The Public Index will feature an “open source amicus brief”—a wiki that provides site users with the opportunity to edit and discuss a draft of the Institute’s brief to the court explaining the benefits and risks of the proposed settlement from a public-interest perspective.“This will be a legal brief of the people, by the people, and for the people,” Professor Grimmelmann said.
The Law School will also host a conference on the law and policy of book scanning from Thursday, October 8 to Saturday, October 10, 2009. The conference is timed to coincide with the rescheduled fairness hearing in the Google Book Search case, which will be held on Wednesday, October 7 in New York City, just five blocks from the Law School.
“The Public Interest Book Search Initiative, like many other projects at the Law School, gives our students the opportunity to make a difference in the real world while still in school,” Dean and President Richard A. Matasar said. “New York Law School will be at the forefront of this major issue pertaining to both the publishing and technology worlds, providing a space for public discourse both online and at the site of our new hi-tech building for the conference in October.”
The conference will feature distinguished speakers representing a range of disciplines who will discuss the public policy issues raised by the proposed settlement and its long-term implications for publishing and for copyright law. One day of particular interest to New York’s vibrant publishing industry will be devoted to a series of tutorial sessions that will explain the provisions of the proposed settlement and their associated legal issues in detail. The New York Law School Law Review will publish a volume of essays from the panelists at the conference.
About New York Law
Founded in 1891, New York Law School is an independent law school located in lower Manhattan near the city’s centers of law, government, and finance. New York Law School’s renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School’s strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, labor and employment law, media and information law, urban legal studies, international and comparative law, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. The School is noted for its eight academic centers: Center on Business Law & Policy, Center on Financial Services Law, Center for International Law, Center for New York City Law, Center for Professional Values and Practice, Center for Real Estate Studies, Institute for Information Law & Policy, and Justice Action Center. New York Law School has more than 13,000 graduates and enrolls some 1,500 students in its full- and part-time J.D. program and its Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation program. www.nyls.edu
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