Postponement for the Google books settlement

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Today a New York judge postponed a scheduled hearing in the Google books settlement because of pending changes to the agreement. Our tech blog reports:

In response to concerns raised by federal antitrust regulators, the Authors Guild and the Assn. of American Publishers are likely to make ‘significant changes to the current settlement agreement,’ wrote Judge Denny Chin. Holding a hearing on the agreement as currently written, he concluded, would make little sense.

Earlier this week, the publisher and author groups requested a delay in the proceedings so they could address copyright and antitrust issues raised by the Department of Justice in a brief filed last week.

The Google books settlement would create a rights registry for books, much like ASCAP for songs. The registry would administer payments for usage -- downloading and printing -- to the authors of books that are out of print. That Google would keep the fees for those books that have no clear owner -- ‘orphan works’ -- is one of the contested issues of the proposed agreement.


There are other, less book-focused concerns. The Justice Department is investigating possible antitrust issues. And industry rivals Yahoo and Microsoft have banded together, organizing some more vested players like the New York Library Assn., to oppose the proposed settlement.

We’ll be listening for news on Oct. 7, when the court has said it will discuss how to proceed with the case.

-- Carolyn Kellogg


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