September 19, 2009

Gov’t seeks changes in Google books deal

The U.S. Justice Department says it wants changes in a tentative agreement between Google Inc., and the authors of books it wants to put online.

Google, of Mountain View, Calif., is seeking court approval for the deal, which it plans to use to create the world's largest digital library and bookstore. But Justice Department officials said Friday the agreement as it currently stands doesn't sufficiently protect the rights of authors and publishers, The New York Times reported.

As presently drafted the proposed settlement does not meet the legal standards this court must apply, DOJ officials wrote in a legal filing. This court should reject the proposed settlement and encourage the parties to continue negotiations to comply with Rule 23 and the copyright and antitrust laws. Rule 23, the Times said, sets procedures for class-action lawsuits.

Both Google and authors welcomed the DOJ weigh-in, saying in a joint statement it indicated the government wants to achieve an agreement.

Clearly the Justice Department sees the tremendous value that this settlement would bring to readers, students and scholars, the newspaper quoted Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, as saying in the statement. We don't want this opportunity to be lost.