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Judge gives Google more time for digital library talks

Web giant's plan to make orphans work for it delayed

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Google and American authors and publishers have been given an extra nine months to come up with a solution to the ongoing legal dispute over the web giant's proposed digital library.

The Chocolate Factory had already come to a settlement in the case, originally brought by the publishers against Google's plan to scan loads of orphan works – copyrighted books whose owner can't be found – and make them available in a massive digital library. But a US judge rejected the settlement on the basis that it would give the company a "de facto monopoly over unclaimed works".

The same federal judge, Judge Denny Chin, told Google and the publishers that he was still hopeful they could reach a settlement, even though "you're essentially starting from scratch", according to a Reuters report.

The case could now be pushed as late as July 2012, unless the parties can come to an agreement before that date of which the judge approves.

Google has already scanned over 12 million titles from libraries across the US in what it claims is a project to open up access to hard-to-find books.

Critics of the proposed settlement are concerned that the creation of a 'Book Rights Registry', where authors and publishers could resolve copyright claims in exchange for a cut of Google's revenues, gave the company too much control over orphan works, with other organisations needing to negotiate the rights to those books with Google. There was also some concern that the whole model for the registry was opt-out rather than opt-in, so authors were in it unless they specifically said they didn't want to be.

The publishers group "have made good progress" towards an amended agreement with Google, according to a statement from them yesterday.

A Google spokesperson told The Reg that the search giant had no new comment on the case at this time. ®

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