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Judge delays Google Books hearing

Posted at 25 September 2009 10:01 CEST by AdamT

Google is set to return to the negotiating table with publishers over plans to digitise millions of in-copyright books.

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The US$125 million deal was originally approved by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, but met with wide spread criticism both in the US and around the world. Under the conditions of the deal, authors and publishers who do not specifically opt out of the settlement were deemed to have signed up to it. Google was set to keep one third of revenues generated by sales of digital books and other income.

A “fairness hearing” court ruling on the deal was scheduled for early October, but the groups involved have requested more time to re-work the agreement.

“The current settlement agreement raises significant issues, as demonstrated not only by the number of objections, but also by the fact that the objectors include countries, states, non-profit organisations and prominent authors and law professors. Clearly fair concerns have been raised,” wrote Judge Chin.

“The proposed settlement would offer many benefits to society, as recognised by supporters of the settlement as well as the Department of Justice. It would appear that if a fair and reasonable settlement can be struck, the public would benefit.”

“Under all the circumstances, it makes no sense to conduct a hearing on the fairness and reasonableness of the current settlement agreement, as it does not appear the the current settlement will be the operative one.”

The decision to delay the hearing came as French publishers and authors took Google to court on Thursday.

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