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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Judge grants preliminary approval of Google Book Settlement

Earlier this month, Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers submitted a revised version of the Google Book Settlement. The new draft is intended to resolve the U.S. Justice Department’s concerns that the settlement would violate copyright law and give Google an unfair advantage. According to the Digits blog, Judge Denny Chin has granted preliminary approval of the amended settlement and has set the hearing for February 18, 2010. However, many groups do not believe that the revisions are enough and feel that Google could still have a monopoly on orphan works or those which are under copyright but out-of-print and the rights holders are unknown or can not be located.

According to an article from CNET news, the settlement has been revised to include only out-of-print books that were published in the U.S., U.K., Australia, or Canada due to opposition from several countries. More rules regarding the Books Rights Registry were also added. The registry will be independent of Google and authors and publishers will have seats on the registry board. The registry will also be required to search for copyright holders that have not come forward. The revision does not address the important concern that reading records will be protected from disclosure to the government and third parties.

An article from the Bookseller.com says that Amazon has already filed a memorandum asking the judge to reconsider the preliminary approval noting that the ruling was made “without the benefit of opposing viewpoints” and the settlement is “doomed from the start and fails to satisfy even the low standard for preliminary approval.” Groups will have until January 28, 2010 to file objections to the revised settlement with the court.

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