Press Release

Justice Says Revised Google Books Deal Still Problematic


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 11:36 am

    The Justice Department announced late Thursday that it still has problems with a proposed settlement between the publishing industry and Google over the firm’s plans for developing a global online library, CongressDaily reported. In a filing with the U.S. District Court in New York, the department said there are issues of class certification, copyright and antitrust" that remain in an amended settlement worked out by the parties.

    The department said in its filing that "the amended settlement agreement suffers from the same core problem as the original agreement: It is an attempt to use the class action mechanism to implement forward-looking business arrangements that go far beyond the dispute before the court in this litigation."

    The proposed agreement, between Google and the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, would settle a class action lawsuit filed in 2005 by authors and publishers who fear Google would infringe on their copyrights by making books available online. The parties proposed a settlement in September, but the Justice Department recommended that the court reject it. Google filed an amended settlement in November. The court has scheduled a Feb. 18 hearing on the revised settlement.

    In a statement, the Open Book Alliance, which opposes the settlement, applauded the Justice Department’s filing saying, it will "help to preserve competition, promote innovation and protect the public interest. The Department of Justice has made it crystal clear that the proposal before the court is overreaching and cannot be approved." The alliance members include, Microsoft and Yahoo, as well as some library, writer and publishing groups. John Simpson with Consumer Watchdog also praised the department in a statement for "standing firm in opposing this private deal that unfairly benefits the narrow agenda of one company" and predicted the court will reject it.

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