Google Books deal to be reached

Google and publishers ordered to reach a settlement on Google's proposed digital library by Sept. 15.

By , Monitor contributor

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    A judge ordered Google and publishers to reach a settlement on Google's proposed digital library by Sept. 15 or risk taking the case to trial.
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A federal judge ordered Google Inc. and a group of book authors and publishers to reach a deal over Google Books, Google’s proposed digital library of books, by September.

US District Court Judge Denny Chin set a hearing date for Sept. 15 and told the two parties the case would proceed to trial if the parties aren’t close to a settlement by that date.

“We have been working closely with the authors and publishers to explore a number of options in response to the court's decision,” Google said in a statement. “Regardless of the outcome, we'll continue to make books discoverable and useful through Google Books and Google eBooks.”

The Google Books case started with a class action lawsuit filed in 2005 by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) charging Google with copyright infringement over its huge book-scanning project, according to Agence France-Presse.

In March, Google and the party of authors and publishers had presented Judge Chin a $125 million deal to resolve separate lawsuits over Google Books, which is scanning books for online distribution. Chin delivered a major setback for Google when he rejected the settlement plan hammered out by the Internet company and a group of authors and publishers, saying the proposed settlement was “not fair, adequate and reasonable.” In his decision, the judge also said the pact would give Google the ability to “exploit” books without the permission of copyright owners.

A revised settlement was submitted to the court in November 2009 to ease concerns raised by the US Department of Justice that the original settlement was monopolistic and granted broad rights and immunities to Google, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Complainants, including Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc., and Amazon.com Inc., filed some 500 objections to the revised settlement.

At a hearing Tuesday, the parties said they needed more time to reach a new settlement.

Chin set a Sept. 15 hearing date for the parties to return to court, and threatened that the case would go to trial if the parties weren’t close to reaching a settlement.

The results of the Google Books case could set a major precedent in the digitization debate.

Husna Haq is a Monitor contributor.

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