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Judge Rejects Amazon Bid To Scrap Google Pact

By REUTERS

Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 3:41 pm

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NEW YORK  – A federal judge has rejected Amazon.com Inc’s request that he withdraw preliminary approval of a settlement between Google Inc and groups of authors and publishers to digitize millions of books.

In a Tuesday ruling, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said he planned to conduct a "thorough fairness analysis" of the settlement at a February 18, 2010 hearing and Amazon could argue its case then.

Seattle-based Amazon, which sells digital books, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The settlement is designed to resolve a 2005 lawsuit by authors and publishers that accused Google of copyright infringement for scanning libraries of books into digital form, enabling contents to be seen online.

Google, the Authors Guild and publishers last month submitted a revised agreement aimed at answering antitrust and copyright concerns raised by the U.S. Justice Department and others.

To answer antitrust concerns, a section was eliminated that had required the book registry created by the settlement to give Google at least as good a deal as any competitor.

In another shift, money from works whose authors cannot be found will go to an independent fiduciary.

The deal had also been challenged overseas. As part of the agreement, books in the registry would be reduced to those published in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The Justice Department has until February 4 to comment on the revised settlement, court records show.

Critics of the deal have been a varied group that includes Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, the National Writers Union, Consumer Watchdog and singer Arlo Guthrie.

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

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