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Germany says 'nein' to Google book deal

Justice minister claims program 'runs afoul of law'

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The German government has come out in opposition to Google's recent book settlement, declaring it would “irrevocably alter the landscape of international copyright law.”

Court papers filed in New York yesterday said the deal “runs afoul of the applicable German national laws, as well as European public initiatives to create non-commercial worldwide digital libraries.”

Last month Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo! attempted to derail a court settlement which arose after Mountain View was sued by authors and publishers in 2005.

In October last year, Google was handed the right to digitise, host, and sell ads against millions of published works, after it reached a class action settlement with the groups that had originally brought the copyright infringement suit (PDF).

Under the agreement, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have the final say on whether their members' copyrighted works may be used in Google’s Book Rights Registry. The web kingpin also agreed to pay $125m to resolve any outstanding claims.

Germany is the first government to oppose Google’s program.

According to AFP, German justice minister Brigitte Zypries told Handelsblatt business daily that she had filed a 25-page legal brief with the court in New York that is required to give the settlement the go ahead.

"We hope that the court strikes down the approval of the settlement in the class-action suit, or at least excludes our German authors and publishers from the so-called class, so the settlement has no impact on them," she said.

A “fairness hearing” will be held in the Big Apple on 7 October by a US District Court judge.

Anyone wishing to add his or her voice of dissent against the settlement has until Friday (4 September) to do so. ®

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