Google Book Settlement Hearing Could Be a Marathon

After about a year of delays, a federal judge will finally hold a hearing Thursday over the settlement Google (GOOG) struck with authors and publishers that would allow it to distribute millions of books online.

The battle lines for and against the settlement have been drawn for months, as objectors and supporters have filed round after round of briefs with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers announced the settlement in October 2008.

But a cohort of settlement critics–and some supporters–are rolling into Manhattan anyway, seeking a chance to speak their minds.

The hearing, which begins at 10 a.m., is shaping up to be a lengthy affair.

Judge Denny Chin has given 28 parties five minutes each to speak. Twenty-three of those–including Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon.com (AMZN), AT&T (T) and the French Republic–are scheduled to speak in opposition.

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