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US court to consider revised Google Books deal

Google and US authors and publishers have submitted a revised settlement to a US judge for approval to clear the way for millions of digitised books to be sold online.

The parties revised the settlement after the US Department of Justice and several European countries raised concerns that the deal infringed copyright and would give Google a monopoly.

The original $125m settlement agreed a year ago would have given Google the right to scan any published work for use in its US book search service.

US internet users would have been able to read extracts online and buy digital copies of the works regardless of their origin, with proceeds split between Google, publishers and authors.

New York Judge Denny Chin, charged with reviewing the original settlement, set the parties a deadline of 9 November to submit a revised version, but granted an extension of a week upon request.

The US Department of Justice recommended that the deal be redrafted to give equal access to book collections to Google's competitors as well as greater protection for non-US authors and publishers and unknown copyright holders of out-of-print books.

The revised settlement covers only books published in the US, UK, Australia and Canada. It also sets up an independent body responsible for the interests of the rights holders of out-of-print books, according to reports.

Despite the concessions, the revised settlement was immediately criticised as a "sleight of hand" by a group of Google's competitors including Microsoft and Amazon called the Open Book Alliance, according to the Financial Times.

The Internet Archive, which is also creating an online archive, said none of the proposed changes appear to address the fundamental flaws highlighted by the Department of Justice and other critics.

Judge Chin is expected to hold a hearing in February on whether or not to approve the settlement.


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