Feeds

US judge postpones Googlebooks hearing

$125m pact 'raises significant issues'

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.