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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

September 18, 2009 at 7:44 PM

Feds weigh in on Google book settlement: Keep hashing it out

Nice timing: The U.S. Department of Justice just issued a release announcing its position on the controversial settlement of a copyright dispute between Google and authors and book publishers.

The feds said they told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that “while it should not accept the class action settlement in The Authors Guild Inc. et al. v. Google Inc. as proposed due to concerns of the United States regarding class action, copyright and antitrust law, the parties should be encouraged to continue their productive discussions to address those concerns.”

In other words, Justice asked the court to let Google and the publishing industry keep hashing it out, keeping in mind some suggestions. From the release:

In its filing, the Department proposed that the parties consider a number of changes to the agreement that may help address the United States’ concerns, including imposing limitations on the most open-ended provisions for future licensing, eliminating potential conflicts among class members, providing additional protections for unknown rights holders, addressing the concerns of foreign authors and publishers, eliminating the joint-pricing mechanisms among publishers and authors, and, whatever the settlement’s ultimate scope, providing some mechanism by which Google’s competitors can gain comparable access.

An excerpt from the filing, included in the release:

“Given the parties’ express commitment to ongoing discussions to address concerns already raised and the possibility that such discussions could lead to a settlement agreement that could legally be approved by the Court, the public interest would best be served by direction from the Court encouraging the continuation of those discussions between the parties and, if the Court so chooses, by some direction as to those aspects of the Proposed Settlement that need to be improved. Because a properly structured settlement agreement in this case offers the potential for important societal benefits, the United States does not want the opportunity or momentum to be lost.”

Comments | Topics: Google

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