Google Books Settlement Evidently in Need of Further Editing

Published on September 23, 2009
by John Paczkowski

googbooksLooks like the Google Books Settlement won’t be hitting the shelves until later this year–at the earliest. Days after the U.S. Justice Department criticized the deal and the forward-looking business arrangements it seeks to create as cause for “significant legal concern,” Google (GOOG), the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers requested a delay in a judge’s final “fairness hearing” scheduled for Oct. 7 so that they can amend it.

“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,” the groups wrote in their request to U.S. District Judge Denny Chin. “Nevertheless, it is clear that the complex issues raised…preclude submission of an amended agreement by Oct. 7.” And with that they asked if they could return to the court Nov. 6 with a revised settlement and a new timeline for hearings.

Though it’s not yet clear what form the revised settlement might take or what adjusted terms are being discussed, the opposition is already crowing over it. “This is a huge victory for the many people and organizations who raised significant concerns that this settlement did not serve the public interest, stifled innovation, and restricted competition,” the Open Book Alliance, an ad hoc group led by some of Google’s largest rivals, said in a post to its blog. “It’s also an enormous loss for Google, which had been saying for months that no changes were necessary to the settlement. Now, that settlement, as we know it, is dead.”

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