Money Matters - Simplified

Authors, publishers ask court to delay Google Book's hearing

The Authors Guild and AAP has asked the court to reschedule a status hearing on Nov. 6. This hearing is to inform the judge about the progress on the deal and settle on the date for the final fairness hearing

New York, September 23 -- In a move to address the concerns raised over Google’s scanning project, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) on Tuesday asked a federal judge to delay the Oct. 7 hearing on the proposed book settlement.

In a court hearing on Tuesday, the plaintiffs said that they need more time to amend the deal.

"In order for the process to go forward in a reasonable and productive manner, we need more time than would be allowed by keeping the Oct. 7 date for the fairness hearing," said Allan Adler, vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Association of American Publishers.

The Authors Guild and AAP has asked the court to schedule a status hearing on Nov. 6 to inform the judge about the progress on the deal and settle on the date for the final fairness hearing.

Request prompted by objections to the deal
The move has been prompted by the objections raised to the deal by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

In a 32 page legal filing to the New York federal court last Friday, DOJ stated, “As presently drafted the proposed settlement does not meet the legal standards this court must apply.”

The Justice Department urged the federal judge to reject the Google book deal in its current form, citing concerns that agreement could infringe antitrust, class action and copyright laws.

Tuesday's filing from the Authors Guild and the AAP stated, "It is because the parties wish to work with the DOJ to the fullest extent possible that they have engaged, and plan to continue to engage, in negotiations in an effort to address and resolve the concerns expressed in the U.S. Statement of Interest."

The opponents to the deal, including Microsoft, Yahoo! and Amazon.com, hailed the move as a huge victory, calling the settlement “dead” for now.

Decision awaited
The New York District Court Judge Denny Chin will decide whether or not to reschedule the hearing. It is not clear whether he will approve the request or not. The judge can schedule the hearing on Oct. 7 and announce the verdict but that is improbable, given DOJ’s involvement in the case, which has urged for modifications.

DOJ believes that properly structured agreement "has the potential to breathe life into millions of works that are now effectively off limits to the public".

Specifically, DOJ has asked for limiting the provisions of future licensing. The agency also suggested that more protection should be given to unknown right holders, and joint pricing deal between authors and publishers should be eliminated.