[LINK] Google Book Hearing cancelled - Negotiations Continue

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Sat Sep 26 18:13:06 AEST 2009


> Judge Nixes Google Book Hearing as Negotiations Continue
> Google’s drive to create the online library and bookstore of the  
> future is being delayed indefinitely after the judge overseeing a  
> controversial settlement with the world’s authors and publishers  
> over copyright issues postponed an upcoming hearing, citing  
> opposition from the U.S. and foreign governments.
> Federal district court judge Denny Chin canceled the so-called  
> fairness hearing on October 7, since Google is currently re- 
> negotiating the agreement with the plaintiffs. Those negotiations  
> over Google Book Search re-opened after the Justice Department  
> weighed in with a critical filing last Friday that effectively  
> killed the version that had been under intense public discussion for  
> nearly a year.
> “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, nonprofit  
> organizations and prominent authors and law professors. Clearly,  
> fair concerns have been raised,” Chin wtote in a Thursday ruling  
> (.pdf).
> But, critically, Chin found, like the Justice Department before him,  
> the settlement negotiations should not be scuttled yet.
> “On the other hand, the proposed settlement would offer many  
> benefits to society,” Chin wrote. “It would appear that if a fair  
> and reasonable settelment can be struck, the public would benefit.”
> The ruling was not unexpected, given that the plaintiffs in the case  
> — The Author’s Guild and the American Association of Publishers —  
> asked for a postponement, without objection from the search giant.  
> Those groups sued Google in 2005, arguing that its project to make  
> digital copies of millions of books in the nation’s top  
> universities’ libraries and make them searchable violated copyright  
> law.
> The two sides came to a landmark agreement that cut through thorny  
> copyright provisions for out-of-print works whose authors couldn’t  
> be found and proposed to set up an independent Book Registry that  
> would set and collect royalty rates, much like those that exist for  
> musicians and songwriters.
> But an odd-fellows union of opposition grew in strength over the  
> months that authors and publishers had to decide whether to fight or  
> sign onto November’s settlement. Union members included Microsoft,  
> the the hard left-leaning National Writers Union, the Internet  
> Archive (archive.org), the French government and copyright scholars  
> such as UC Berkeley’s Pamela Samuelson.
> Google attempted to rally support for its project, which has now  
> digitized more than seven million books. Sony, which makes a e-book  
> reader to compete with Amazon’s Kindle, supported the project for  
> making millions of books available
> Google has already offered concessions, including an offer to let  
> other online retailers — such as e-retail giant Amazon.com — resell  
> the books Google digitized. Amazon quickly shot down the idea of  
> becoming a Google affiliate.
> A Google spokesperson noted that the judge expressed hope that a  
> good settlement be reached quickly, and said Google was working to  
> iron out a new agreement.
> “We are engaged in focused discussions with Department of Justice  
> regarding specific points it has raised, and are considering  
> potential amendments to the agreement,” the spokesperson said.

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