October 7, 2009

November 9 Deadline For Google Online Books Settlement

A federal judge in New York set a November 9th deadline on Wednesday for Google and representatives of U.S. authors to submit a renegotiated settlement that would clear the way for millions of out-of-print books to be published online.

Although many have praised Google's plan to provide broad access to the books, others have criticized the plan based on antitrust, copyright and privacy grounds.

The settlement is an attempt to resolve a 2005 lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild and others (Authors Guild et al v Google Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 05-08136).

The original $125 million settlement was being renegotiated after the U.S. Justice Department said it appeared to violate antitrust laws. 

Under that settlement, Google agreed to pay $125 million to resolve outstanding claims and establish an independent "Book Rights Registry" to provide revenue from sales and advertising to authors and publishers who agree to digitize their books. The Department of Justice had urged Chin last month to reject the settlement.

Wednesday's hearing, originally set as a fairness hearing, was changed to a scheduling conference after all sides agreed that a new deal was needed.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin of Manhattan federal court issued the deadline after a lawyer representing the authors told him that the parties were working nonstop to reach an amended agreement by early November.

Judge Chin said he hoped a motion for preliminary approval of the revised deal would be filed by November 9 so a hearing could take place in late December or early January on possible final approval of the settlement.

"I like the target date of early November. Targeting the changes is the right way to do it," Reuters quoted Chin as saying during a 15-minute conference in court with lawyers for Google, the Authors Guild and the U.S. Department of Justice.

"The parties' expectation is we will present a settlement agreement," Google lawyer Daralyn Jeannine Durie told Chin.

The case is Authors Guild et al v Google Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan), No. 05-08136.


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