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Abstract

The Google Books case and its proposed settlement have provoked heated debate. Objections to the settlement proposals have come from virtually all sides—from Google’s competitors to public interest organizations, state attorneys general, the U.S. Department of Justice, and even foreign countries such as France and Germany. While it is impossible to know what the terms of the final settlement will be, it is already clear that one of the settlement’s most important consequences will be how it changes the orphan works debate, both in the United States and in Europe. This Article argues that the Google Books case offers an unprecedented occasion to address the orphan works problem and to adopt a legislative solution that will promote desperately needed international harmonization of the law on this issue. The Article analyzes the framework that the Google Books settlement proposes as well as proposed legislative solutions in the United States and the European Union. It suggests a legislative solution which would be as effective as the one envisioned by the settlement but which would avoid the monopoly the settlement would create if approved. The most important element of that solution foresees the introduction of extended collective licenses.

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