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Amazon Blasts Google Book Settlement

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September 10 – September 17, 2009 Edition

Amazon Blasts Google Book Settlement

SEATTLE,WA/Authorlink News/09/10/09–Amazon.com last week blasted Google's copyright settlement with the association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild as anticompetitive and adding to consumer costs for digital books. The company also said Google is undermining Congress's role in amending copyright law to address new and emerging technological issues.

 

Amazon has filed a formal intervention in the case with the U.S. district Court in New York, joining many opponents, including Sony Corp., Microsoft, and Yahoo, the American Library Association and others.

 

Amazon charges that the settlement flies squarely in the face of Congress's constitutionally delegated role to legislate changes to the copyright law, according to an article September 3 in the Wall Street Journal.

 

Google retorted that it is injecting more competition into the digital books market and indicated Amazon was merely trying to prevent competition. In a written statement, the Authors Guild said that "Amazon's hypocrisy is breathtaking."

 

Amazon has an e-book inventory of around 300,000 titles offered through Kindle and the iPhone. Should the settlement be approved, Google would have access to millions of books that it could reformat as e-books, offering them for sale through Google Book Search and through subscriptions to libraries and other entities.

 

The copyright infringement case would, in part, order Google to pay a small amount of money for books it illegally scanned for its Google Book Search program. In addition the settlement would expand Google's power to display even larger amounts of copyrighted work and sets up the new (already partly in place) Book Rights Registry to police rights between Google and rightsholders for a fee of up to 20% out of already slim author loyalties. The BRR, partly funded by Google, would also offer dispute resolution services for added legal fees.

A Fairness Hearing to decide whether to grant final approval of the settlement is scheduled October 7, 2009 at 10 a.m. in Courtroom 11A of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, United States Courthouse, located at 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York 10007.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department continues its investigation of the settlement, and has been given a deadline of September 18 to present any concerns to the Court.

(Editor's Note: Authorlink has been voicing its opposition to the settlement since early November 2008, when it was first announced. For a full list of related articles at www.authorlink.com, search "Google settlement", beginning with our analysis, "Google Settlement Has a Few Unforeseen Wrinkles for Authors." Authorlink hopes that authors and publishers will clearly understand all sides of this issue before the Court case is decided, and also that authors and publishers will consider the long-term effects of the new rights structure that will be set in motion by the settlement.)