Google Books settlement delayed

I’ve been trying to keep up with the Google Books story because I think whatever happens will have a huge impact on both the publishing industry and on libraries. It’s not easy to do, though — every day there’s something in the news about it, but nothing huge has happened, really; these things are always slow. This morning, though, a significant development. From cnet:

Google Books hearing officially delayed

The judge overseeing Google Books settlement has agreed to the plaintiffs’ request for a delay of the final hearing scheduled to approve the controversial settlement, which is being reworked by the parties.

Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York had been scheduled to oversee a October 7 hearing about whether to approve a 2008 settlement between Google and several groups representing authors and publishers. However, the settlement, which gives Google sweeping rights to digitize out-of-print but copyright protected books, has drawn staunch opposition from many corners of the literary world as well as the U.S. Department of Justice.

As a result, the settlement is in the process of being reworked, and Judge Chin agreed to give the parties more time to rework the settlement following a request from the plaintiffs filed earlier this week. “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 that the current settlement will be the operative one,” Chin wrote in a letter sent to both parties.

Instead, the parties will hold a status conference on the 7th to figure out what to do next. Chin noted that this case has been in the works for over four years, when groups representing authors and publishers sued Google in 2005 for digitizing books without explicit permission.

2 thoughts on “Google Books settlement delayed

  1. I admit I haven’t been keeping up with this. If G really wanted to provide a service, they would concentrate first on the kinds of books which are in the ‘you can’t remove these books from this room’ category. Can you imagine the boon to researchers of all kinds? If there is a reference a person really needs, and the closest copy is in an archive 1500 miles away, what are the chances they will actually be able to go and look at it. I don’t think most archives and research libraries would mind having the information available, they mostly want to preserve the physical items, not hoard the information. I assume G is planning on making money from this in some fashion, but most researchers would be willing to pay a reasonable fee to access documents they would otherwise have no way seeing.

    M

  2. Mary, those are really good points. I’m not sure how it would work, but I know as an archivist myself, I’d be happy to have more of my resources digitized — but it’s so painstaking and costly to do, so if Google had a way of stepping in, that would help.

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