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Judge Denny Chin, best known for overseeing the Bernie Madoff trial, said yesterday he would not be rushing into judgement in the Google books hearing.

Chin said: "To end the suspense, I'm not going to rule today. There's just too much to digest. And however I come out, I want an opinion that explains my reasoning."

The court first heard evidence from supporters of the agreement between Google and US publishers but these were outnumbered by opponents.

Lawyers for Sony, which supports the deal, said Google's huge scanning project would open access to otherwise unavailable books and that the proposals for tracking down rights holders would work well enough.

Others warned that court support of the agreement would set a poor precedent for future copyright law by effectively rewarding Google's decision to scan first and ask questions later.

Several lawyers also raised privacy questions - how much information Google would collect about what books we read. But Judge Chin seemed unconvinced by these fears.

More from Main Justice here.

Simon Juden, chief executive of the Publishers Association, which supports the deal, said the case raised serious questions about the wider future of copyright. He also noted that in Europe work is already underway, via the ARROW project, to help track down rights owners of orphan works. ®

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