Digital books

Parties Seek More Time to Craft Google Books Deal

The parties to the Google book settlement, which would legalize the creation of a vast library of digital books, have asked the judge overseeing a revision of the agreement for an extension to this Friday, Nov. 13.

At a hearing in October, Google and its partners at the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers outlined an aggressive timeline for modifying the agreement to satisfy the objections of the Justice Department and other critics. The parties told Judge Denny Chin of the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York that they would submit a revised settlement for the court’s preliminary approval by Nov. 9.

But on Monday, the parties submitted a letter to the court requesting an extension to Nov. 13. In the letter, the group indicated that it had met with the Justice Department before and after the October status hearing and had met as recently as Friday, Nov. 6.

The original agreement arose from a lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers against Google, claiming copyright infringement after Google began scanning books from university libraries. After the settlement was announced in October 2008, it faced hundreds of objections from authors, academics, librarians, public interest groups and rivals. In September, the Justice Department recommended that the court reject the settlement in its current form.

The department submitted a 32-page filing to the court on Sept. 18, saying it was concerned the agreement could violate antitrust law by giving Google “de facto exclusive rights for the digital distribution of orphan works.” Orphan works are books whose authors are unknown or cannot be found. The Justice Department also said it wanted the settlement to comply with procedures for class-action lawsuits.

Despite its objections, the department also said it hoped the agreement could be preserved because of its many benefits to readers and scholars.

(New York Times - November 9, 2009)

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