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Google seeks delay in book settlement

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Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 5:03 pm

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Faced with mounting criticism of the proposed Google Books settlement, the Internet giant has asked the court to extend the time for authors, publishers and their heirs to decide if they want to be part of the deal.

An announcement of the request came late Monday afternoon in a posting on Google’s Public Policy Blog by Alexander Macgillivray, Associate General Counsel for Products and Intellectual Property.

On Friday, as reported on the blog "Bits" by Miguel Helft, heirs of John Steinbeck were among those asking for a four-month extension. Late Friday Google asked Federal district Judge Denny Chin to deny that request, but grant a two-month delay.

Here’s Macgillivray’s reason for a two-month delay as explained on the Google blog:

"It’s pretty easy for credit card companies to contact their cardholders — they send bills to them all the time. The world’s authors, publishers and their heirs are much more difficult to find…

"The settlement is highly detailed, and we want to make sure rightsholders everywhere have enough time to think about it and make sure it’s right for them. That’s why we’ve asked the court for permission to extend the opt-out deadline for an extra 60 days."

Consumer Watchdog is among those opposing the settlement.  We’ve asked the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene on antitrust grounds.

It does seem to me that Google’s request for a delay is more about quelling mounting opposition, rather than making "sure rightsholders everywhere have enough time to think…"

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This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 361 posts on Inside Google.

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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