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Critics Of Google Online-Books Deal Seek Delay

By REUTERS

Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 10:15 am

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Critics of Google’s deal with an authors’ group to put millions of books online have asked for a delay in a hearing set to consider the settlement in a court filing on Thursday.

The class action settlement hammered out by Google and the Authors Guild has come under criticism from a variety of fronts, including the U.S. Justice Department.

Google and the authors said they would come up with an amended agreement by Nov. 9, and the judge assessing the settlement said he hoped to hold a final hearing in late December or early January.

But a long list of critics of the deal, including Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft, the National Writers Union, Consumer Watchdog and singer Arlo Guthrie, argued on Thursday that the original class action settlement was long and complex and any changes would only add to its complexity.

“We signatories raised different specific concerns and issues about this settlement from a number of different vantage points,” the letter said.

“We are united, however, in our concern that the parties’ (Google and the authors) requests to limit the notice, time and scope of objections will be unfair to us and to other class members,” the letter said.

Google could not immediately be reached for comment.

The settlement is an effort to resolve a 2005 lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild and others against Google’s effort to scan libraries. In that suit, authors and publishers had accused Google of copyright infringement.

Google’s plan to create a massive digital library has been praised for bringing broad access to books but has also been criticized on antitrust, copyright and privacy grounds.

German book publishers are up in arms about the deal, and on Sept. 24 they criticized European regulators for failing to take a stand against the settlement.

The French publishing house La Martiniere, the French Publishers’ Association and authors’ group SGDL asked a Paris court to fine Google 15 million euros ($22 million) and 100,000 euros for each day it continues to violate copyright by digitizing their books.

The U.S. case is Authors Guild et al v Google Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan), No. 05-08136.

(Editing by Gary Hill)

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