With a May 5 deadline looming for parties to opt-out of or object to the Google Book Search settlement, Gail Knight Steinbeck, who manages husband Thomas Steinbeck’s affairs and the literary estate of John Steinbeck, expressed "grave concerns" over the "pressing deadline" and said she has hired an attorney and is "organizing a group of very high profile, concerned authors and organizations" to ask the court for an extension. Steinbeck told PW she has serious, wide-ranging reservations about the deal and about Google’s future plans. "More time, research and more notice is needed," she said suggesting that too many authors remain unaware of the settlement, and that even those who are aware have not had ample time to consider the implications of the broad settlement.
Steinbeck is not alone in expressing concerns about the agreement, including a number of parties that are not part of the settlement. In a letter to the court, an attorney for the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School suggested that the inclusion of orphan works-works still potentially under copyright but whose owners are unknown-are poised to emerge as perhaps the biggest stumbling block to a quick approval. "Members of the orphan works subclass should not be automatically deemed willing to acquiesce in a settlement," attorney Daniel Kornstein wrote, adding that the court should "appoint separate counsel to represent orphan works class," as well as seek additional counsel from the antitrust division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.
The question of orphan works is also at the heart of the objection the Internet Archive has to the settlement. In a letter sent to the judge, the Archive wrote that it would like to file a motion with the court that would alter the settlement to give other parties the same protection against liability in the case of orphan works that the settlement will give Google.
Earlier this month, the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog called for the Justice Department to delay the settlement. The group argued that no one is representing the public interest in the agreement, a deal it contends will "transform" publishing.