August 23, 2009

Google faces public and private scrutiny

Microsoft and Yahoo along with the U.S. Justice Department are watching a settlement between Google and authors and publishers, Information Week reported.

Microsoft and Yahoo joined the Open Book Alliance, a new group opposed to Google's settlement in a case brought against it for scanning books for its search index without permission. The settlement provides for cash payments to people whose books or other written material Google scanned.

The Department of Justice is considering whether the settlement merits antitrust action. The judge overseeing the case has not yet approved the settlement, Information Week reported.

The opposition must meet a Sept. 4 deadline for objections because a fairness hearing is scheduled for Oct. 7 at the federal courthouse in Manhattan.

The critics want Google to commit to certain privacy, exclusivity and indemnification from liability issues, including insuring those who read a book online have the same privacy expectations as those who read it offline, the report said. Another concern is indemnification from copyright claims for anyone who chooses to scan an orphaned work, defined as one for which the copyright holder can't be found.