September 25, 2009

Judge Agrees To Delay Hearing For Google Books Deal

A US district judge decided Thursday to delay a fairness hearing on a settlement that would allow Google to sell digital copies of millions of copyrighted out-of-print books online.

US District Court Judge Denny Chin agreed with a request from the US Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers to postpone the October 7 hearing.

"Under all the circumstances, it makes no sense to conduct a hearing on the fairness and reasonableness of the current settlement agreement, as it does not appear the current settlement will be the operative one," Judge Chin wrote in a two-page decision.

"Clearly, fair concerns have been raised," he added.

Under the deal reached last year, Google agreed to pay $125 million in order to gain access to scan and sell digital copies of millions of copyrighted books.

Four days prior to his decision, the Department of Justice had advised Chin to reject the settlement, according to AFP. The DOJ said the agreement "has the potential to breathe life into millions of works that are now effectively off limits", however many anti-trust and copyright issues must be dealt with.

"We'll continue to work on amending the settlement to address the Justice Department's concerns," The Authors Guild wrote on its Web site.

Chin also ordered a status conference to be held on the original hearing date to discuss "how to proceed with the case as expeditiously as possible."

"If approved by the court, this settlement stands to unlock access to millions of books in the U.S., while giving authors and publishers new ways to distribute their work," Google said in a statement.


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