Google Book Deal hammered by US regulators
By Stuart Turton and Reuters
Posted on 21 Sep 2009 at 08:30
The US Justice Department has urged a New York court to reject Google's controversial book deal with authors and publishers.
The New York court is ruling on a settlement between Google and the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, which will see the search giant create a massive repository of digitised books, where authors and publishers can register works and receive a portion of the revenues earned from ads, subscriptions and sales.
The Justice Department claims the court "should reject the proposed settlement in its current form and encourage the parties to continue negotiations to modify it so as to comply with copyright and antitrust laws."
The department says it has not finished its investigation into the deal but that there's "significant potential" that it would eventually decide the settlement broke antitrust law.
We are considering the points raised by the Department and look forward to addressing them as the court proceedings continue
The Justice Department also noted that the "settlement appears to give book publishers the power to restrict price competition" and would give Google "de facto exclusivity" in distribution of orphan works, books which are in copyright but the rights holder cannot be located.
"The structure of the proposed settlement, therefore, pits the interests of one part of the class (known rightsholders) against the interests of another part of the class (orphan works rightsholders," the department claims.
In a joint statement, Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers professed themselves pleased that the Department of Justice filing "recognises the value the settlement can provide by unlocking access to millions of books. We are considering the points raised by the Department and look forward to addressing them as the court proceedings continue."
John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog claimed he was pleased with the filing: "As the Justice brief makes clear, the proposed class-action settlement is monumentally overbroad and invites the court to overstep its legal jurisdiction, to the detriment of consumers and the public."
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