Feeds

Authors ask court to delay Googlebooks hearing

'The settlement, as we know it, is dead'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Updated US authors and publishers have asked a federal court to postpone an upcoming hearing set to examine its $125m book-scanning settlement with Google, requesting additional time to address Justice Department concerns over the pact.

On Friday, the Department of Justice urged the court to reject the pact as written, citing concerns over class action, copyright, and antitrust law. Google was already in talks with its fellow parties in the settlement, working to amend the agreement, and today, the plaintiffs filed a motion to postpone the fairness hearing scheduled for October 7.

"It is because the parties wish to work with the DOJ to the fullest extent possible that they have engaged, and plan to continue to engage, in negotiations in an effort to address and resolve the concerns expressed in the [DoJ filing]," reads a separate memo to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

"The parties are committed to rapidly advancing the discussions with the DOJ. Nevertheless, it is clear that the complex issues raised [by the DOJ] preclude submission of an amended settlement agreement by October 7."

The memo also says that Google agreed that the plaintiffs could say that Google does not opposed the motion.

Last fall, Google settled a lawsuit from the US Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers over Google Book Search, a project that seeks to digitize texts inside various research libraries. As of October, the web giant had scanned more than 10 million books, many still under copyright. The deal creates a "Book Rights Registry" where copyright holders can resolve claims in exchange for a cut of Google's revenues.

But the pact also gives the web giant a unique right to digitize and sell and post ads against "orphan works," titles whose rights holders have yet to come forward. Other organizations could negotiate the rights to works in the Registry, but the Registry alone would have the power to set prices.

In Friday's filing, the DoJ proposed several changes to the pact, including new protections for unknown rights holders and ways for allowing Google competitors to gain Google-like access to the settlement.

The Open Content Alliance - a group of organizations that oppose the project, including Amazon, Microsoft, and the Internet Archive - views today's news an important win.

"This is a huge victory for the many people and organizations who raised significant concerns that this settlement did not serve the public interest, stifled innovation, and restricted competition," reads a statement from the group. "It’s also an enormous loss for Google, which had been saying for months that no changes were necessary to the settlement. Now, that settlement, as we know it, is dead."

An amended settlement may still go through. But the delay also gives the rest of the world additional time to see other solutions to the ebook copyright problem.

"Any additional time spent on the settlement is going to be time well spent by everyone affected," the Internet Archive's Peter Brantley, the Alliance's primary spokesman, tells The Reg. "It gives people more time to consider alternatives, not only within the settlement but externally."

Brantley and the Alliance have long called for federal legislation that would settle copyright matters for all book scanners - as opposed to a private civil suit settlement that settles matters for a single company. "There is an opportunity now to engage Congress and start to discuss what kind of orphan works legislation and copyright reform to move us all forward in the manner that our laws suggest that we do - so through legislative action rather than private court action," Brantley says.

Google has not yet responded to a request for comment. In the past, it has said it's not opposed to federal legislation. ®

Update: This story has been updated to show that the filing for the delay in the court hearing was made by lawyers representing the authors and publishers, not by Google itself.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.