DOJ urges federal judge to reject Google book search settlement

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a statement of interest [text, PDF; press release] Friday urging the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] to reject a class action settlement [Authors Guild backgrounder] in a copyright suit [case materials] against Google. In its statement, which comes after an investigation [JURIST report] into the agreement, the DOJ told Judge Denny Chin that the proposed settlement raises concerns over class action, copyright, and antitrust law. The DOJ called the agreement discussions productive and proposed modifications to the agreement that included placing limits on provisions for future licensing, providing more protection for unknown rights holders, addressing foreign authors' concerns, and providing a way for Google's competitors to gain comparable access. The DOJ's actions were lauded [press release] by the Open Book Alliance [advocacy website], a group composed of some of Google's main competitors and a number of writers' associations, which is opposed to the settlement in its current form. The settlement is expected to be reviewed by the court on October 7.

The case originated when two lawsuits were brought against Google by the Authors Guild, an advocacy group seeking to preserve copyright protection for authors, and by other plaintiffs including the Association of American Publishers (AAP) [organization website], McGraw-Hill, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster [corporate websites] over Google's book-scanning initiative [Google Book Search website]. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, which was reached [JURIST report] last October, Google would pay $125 million to authors and publishers of copyrighted works. In return, Google would be allowed to display online up to 20 percent of the total pages of a copyrighted book, and would offer users an opportunity to purchase the remainder of any viewed book.

 

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