February 18 – 25, 2010 Edition

Google Defends Book Settlement Against DOJ Concerns

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA/AUTHORLINK NEWS/February 18, 2010—California-based Google Inc. filed a motion last Friday urging a federal judge to accept a $125 million settlement that would allow it to distribute digital books, according to a BusinessWeek report via Bloomberg. District Court Judge Denny Chin was due to hold a fairness hearing today.

In an effort to overcome U.S. Justice Department opposition to the class-action agreement, Google said the revised version will not hurt competition in the growing digital books market. The Justice Department said the settlement will grant Google rights far beyond those disputed in the lawsuit.

The settlement “is not ‘a bridge too far’,” Google said in a filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Terming the settlement “remarkably creative,” the filing said it “will open the virtual doors to the greatest library in history, without costing authors a dime they now receive or are likely to receive if the settlement is not approved.”

The filing represents the final written word in the case before District Court Judge Denny Chin is scheduled to hold a hearing today (February 18 ) on the case, which he has already tentatively approved. The Justice Department is strongly urging Chin to postpone his ruling.

Google last year agreed to pay $125 million to settle the copyright claims and set up a Book Rights Registry to identify and compensate rights holders whose books were illegally scanned by Google.

The settlement would give Google immunity from copyright laws to distribute millions of books on the Internet in exchange for sharing its revenue with authors and publishers.

The Justice Department, Microsoft and Amazon all oppose the settlement on the grounds that it could give Google a monopoly in digital books.

The Justice Department is investigating Google for possible anticompetitive practices in digital books intellectual property and distribution.

Google “has offered only cosmetic changes” to its amended agreement, the Open Book Alliance, a coalition opposed to the settlement, said last week. The Justice Department has said that the revised agreement does not address its original concerns over copyright and competitive issues.

The agreement between Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers seeks to resolve a 2005 lawsuit that claimed Google infringed on copyrights by making digital copies of books without permission.

The case is Authors Guild v. Google Inc., 05-cv-8136, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Read the full story at BusinessWeek.