Feeds

DoJ urges court to reject (unedited) Googlebooks pact

Concerns over class action, copyright, antitrust law

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The US Department of Justice has advised a federal court to reject Google's $125m book-scanning settlement with American authors and publishers, citing concerns over class action, copyright, and antitrust law.

But in the same legal breath, it urged the parties involved in the case to continue discussions intended to alleviate the department's concerns. Earlier this week, Bloomberg News revealed that Google had joined authors and publishers in considering tweaks to the settlement.

"Given the parties' express commitment to ongoing discussions to address concerns already raised and the possibility that such discussions could lead to a settlement agreement that could legally be approved by the Court, the public interest would best be served by direction from the Court encouraging the continuation of those discussions between the parties and, if the Court so chooses, by some direction as to those aspects of the Proposed Settlement that need to be improved," reads the DoJ statement filed with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York late on Friday.

"Because a properly structured settlement agreement in this case offers the potential for important societal benefits, the United States does not want the opportunity or momentum to be lost."

To which we say: Bravo DoJ.

The Open Book Alliance - a group of organizations that opposes the settlement - said much the same. "The Open Book Alliance is pleased with the action taken today by the Department of Justice, which we believe will help to protect the public interest and preserve competition and innovation," reads a statement from the alliance, whose members include Amazon, Microsoft, and the Internet Archive.

"Despite Google’s vigorous efforts to convince them otherwise, the Department of Justice recognizes that there are significant problems with terms of the proposed settlement, which is consistent with the concerns voiced with the Court by hundreds and hundreds of other parties."

In October, Google settled a lawsuit from the US Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers over its Book Search project, which seeks to digitize texts inside many of the world's leading research libraries. To date, the web giant has scanned more than 10 million titles, many of which are still under copyright. The pact creates a "Book Rights Registry" where authors and publishers can resolve copyright claims in exchange for a predefined cut of Google's revenues.

But it also gives Google the unique right to digitize and sell and post ads against "orphan works," books whose rights are controlled by authors and publishers who've yet to come forward. And though other outfits could negotiate the rights to titles in the Registry, the Registry alone would have the power to set prices. Many are concerned that authors and publishers would have no incentive to keep prices down.

With its filing, the DoJ proposed several changes to the settlement, including providing additional protections for unknown rights holders and allowing Google's competitors to gain comparable access to the settlement.

The DoJ was also praised by the consumer watchdog known as Consumer Watchdog, a notorious thorn in Google's side. But the watchdog argues that even if the DoJ's concerns are alleviated, the court should reject the settlement. "Solving the antitrust problem is only [part] of the problem,” said Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson.

"Another deal-breaker should be the complete lack of privacy guarantees. Google, under pressure from the Federal Trade Commission, released a so-called ‘privacy policy’, but what’s to stop them from changing it the day after a settlement is approved on a corporate whim?" Indeed, the settlement does not deal with the privacy issue.

The court is set to hold a fairness hearing on settlement on October 7. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.