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Last-Minute Objections Filed To Google Book Settlement


Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Critics of the revised legal settlement with US authors
    and publishers that would allow Google to scan and sell millions of
    books online filed a flurry of last-minute objections on Thursday.

    Denny Chin is to hold a hearing on February 18 on Google’s vast digital
    book project and the deadline for filing briefs in the case was

    Among those submitting objections were online retail
    giant Amazon, Consumer Watchdog, half-a-dozen French publishing houses,
    fantasy fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin, the Open Book Alliance and

    Amazon, which makes the popular Kindle electronic book
    reader and runs a digital bookstore of its own, said the revised
    agreement violates anti-trust and copyright law and urged the judge to
    reject it.

    Google in 2008 reached a settlement with the Authors
    Guild and the Association of American Publishers to a copyright
    infringement suit they filed against the Mountain View, California
    company in 2005.

    Under the settlement, Google agreed to pay 125
    million dollars to resolve outstanding claims and establish an
    independent "Book Rights Registry," which would provide revenue from
    sales and advertising to authors and publishers who agree to digitize
    their books.

    Amid objections from France, Germany, the US Justice
    Department and others, Google and the authors and publishers drafted
    the modified deal which is before the court.

    The revised
    agreement narrowed the definition of books covered under the settlement
    to those registered with the US Copyright Office by January 2009 or
    published in Australia, Britain, Canada or the United States.

    Justice Department has until February 4 to make its views known but the
    revised deal does not appear to have placated some of its original

    "The proposed settlement threatens to bottleneck the
    access to and distribution and pricing of the largest, private digital
    database of books in the world," the Open Book Alliance said.

    is focused on becoming the sole owner of an immense digital library
    that will improve the company’s advertising-based search business," it

    The Open Book Alliance includes Amazon, Microsoft and
    Yahoo!, the New York Library Association, the Internet Archive, a San
    Francisco-based non-profit with a digital book-scanning project of its
    own, and others.

    Consumer Watchdog said "the revised settlement suffers from the same fundamental problems as its predecessor."

    said it notably fails to do enough to protect reader privacy, violates
    copyright laws and gives "unfair competitive advantages to Google."

    author Le Guin filed a petition signed by more than 365 other writers
    asking judge Chin to exempt the United States from the settlement — a
    move that would effectively torpedo the agreement.

    In her
    petition, she said the settlement was negotiated by the Authors Guild
    "without consultation with any other group of authors or American
    authors as a whole."

    Last week, the heirs of American author John
    Steinbeck and folk singer Woody Guthrie dropped their opposition to the
    settlement, which Google says would make many out-of-print books
    available online.

    "If approved by the court, this settlement
    stands to unlock access to millions of books in the US while giving
    authors and publishers new ways to distribute their work," a Google
    spokesperson told AFP earlier this week.

    Among the Authors Guild
    members supporting the settlement are Wally Lamb, Simon Winchester,
    Beverly Cleary, Amy Tan, Scott Turow, Garrison Keillor and Elmore

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