Feeds

DoJ urges court to reject (unedited) Googlebooks pact

Concerns over class action, copyright, antitrust law

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Free virtual appliance for wire data analytics
The ExtraHop Discovery Edition is a free virtual appliance will help you to discover the performance of your applications across the network, web, VDI, database, and storage tiers.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.