April 29, 2009

Google Battles For “˜Opt-Out’ Extension To Deadline In Book Lawsuit

Internet search giant Google has requested before a judge a two month extension to a deadline for authors and publishers to opt out of a settlement to a legal battle over its intention to develop the world's largest digital library, the Associated Free Press accounted.

Google's decision was prompted after a group of authors and their heirs asked the US District Court judge hearing the case to give a four month extension to the already effective May 5 deadline so that the "enormously complex" settlement could receive the time it was due for study. 

Google made a counter offer with its 60-day proposal, and further requested before Judge Denny Chin a so-called "fairness hearing" on the settlement, which currently is schedule for June 11, to be postponed until at least August 20. 

The assembly of seven authors and their heirs, which include those of Noble laureate John Steinbeck, solicited a fairness hearing on the settlement to the Google Book Search lawsuit in October. 

Supporters of the Google effort to postpone the opt-out deadline and the fairness hearing by two months include the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers (APP), which in 2005 filed the class action lawsuit against the Internet search and advertising company. 

The quarreling trio announced a compromise to their copyright disagreement in October 2008.  Authors and their heirs or publishers had until May 5 to opt out of the agreement, according the terms specified in the settlement. 

Alexander Macgillivray, an attorney on the Google legal team, said Monday in a post on the company blog that an extension would allow Google more time to research book rightsholders to educate them of their rights under the terms of the agreement. 

Google has already invested millions of dollars attempting to find rightsholders globally, he informed. 

"The settlement is highly detailed, and we want to make sure rightsholders everywhere have enough time to think about it and make sure it's right for them," Macgillivray said. "That's why we've asked the court for permission to extend the opt-out deadline for an extra 60 days."

As the settlement mandates, Google must pay 125 million dollars to create an independent "Book Rights Registry," to resolve outstanding claims by authors and publishers as well as pay for legal expenses from the lawsuits against Google. 

The agreement, if approved by Chin, offers future revenue to authors and publishers who agree to digitize their books with the Book Rights Registry.  Also, the agreement would apply only to those holders having US copyrights. 

Readers, under the agreement, would be permitted to preview up to 20 percent of a copyrighted book with an option to view the complete book online by making a payment. 

Rightsholders would have the authority to set book prices unless they forfeit this right to a Google algorithm. 

Web pages displaying the books would still be utilized for advertisement however advertising on the books themselves would not be permitted.  Revenue attained would be divided 63-37 between the rightsholder and Google.

Image Courtesy UPI


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