Feeds

US judge postpones Googlebooks hearing

$125m pact 'raises significant issues'

High performance access to file storage

A US federal judge has postponed a fairness hearing that was set to decide the fate of Google's $125m book-scanning settlement with American authors and publishers, after the Department of Justice raised concerns over the pact.

On Tuesday, the plaintiffs in the four-year-old case - the US Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers - asked Judge Denny Chin to delay the hearing, and today, he said OK. In their Tuesday filing, the plaintiffs said Google did not object to a postponement.

The request came after the DoJ urged the New York-based court to reject the pact as written, citing concerns over class action, copyright, and antitrust law. The plaintiffs were already in talks with Google, with both sides working to bring the agreement into accord with the DoJ suggestions, and more time was needed to make these changes. The fairness hearing had been set for October 7.

In his order (PDF), Judge Chin said: "The current settlement agreement raises significant issues as demonstrated not only by the number of objections, but also by the fact that the objectors include countries, states, non-profit organizations, and prominent authors and law professors."

But he also added that a fair deal "would offer many benefits to society," citing a statement from the DoJ that said "the proposed settlement has the potential to breathe life into millions of works that are now effectively off limits to the public."

Instead of a fairness hearing, the court will conduct a status conference on October 7 to determine how to move the case forward as quickly as possible. But judge Chin will not hear argument from anyone other than the parties involved.

Last October, Google settled a lawsuit from the US Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers over its Google Book Search project, which seeks to digitize texts inside various research libraries. At the time, the Mountain View web giant had scanned more than 10 million books, and many are 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 Google 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.

After the DoJ raised concerns over the pact, the plaintiffs realized the pact wouldn't go through. And presumably, Google did too - though it was the plaintiffs who formally moved for a postponement.

"Clearly, voices such as ours had an impact on Judge Chin," says John Simpson, of the consumer watchdog known as Consumer Watchdog, one of the many organizations opposed to the deal. "There was no way the proposed settlement could go forward. Consumer Watchdog is pleased there will be a status hearing on the case on Oct. 7."

Like the Open Book Alliance - a group that includes the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and Amazon - Consumer Watchdog advocates solving the ebook copyright issue with federal legislation.

"We believe that will demonstrate that the proper place to solve many of the case's thorniest problems, such as that of orphan books, is in Congress," Simpson says. "Consumer Watchdog urges Congress to act expeditiously because it is important to build digital libraries." ®

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
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
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
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!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
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.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
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.