02.09.09 Philip Jones reprting in The Bookseller
In a 50-page legal document, filed yesterday (1st September), Amazon said the agreement was "unfair" to other rights holders, gave Google "an effective monopoly" over scanned in works, and would create "a cartel of authors and publishers". It also questioned the legitimacy of the "class action" and warned the court that it was being asked "to exercise powers that it does not have" stating that the agreement "restrains competition in ways that ought not be sanctioned by this court".
Amazon signaled last month that it would object to the deal and just last week the internet retailer sought the court's permission to appoint prominent copyright lawyer David Nimmer to represent it. In the amicus brief, Amazon concluded that the the agreement was "even arguably unlawful" and that the settlement "must therefore be rejected". It also gave notice that it intended to appear at the fairness hearing scheduled to be held on 7th October. Amazon has joined a number of parties in objecting to the settlement, including the German government, in the run-up to the deadline of 4th September, and its statement will be seen as one of the most important objections so far registered with the court.
It added: "It also creates a cartel of authors and publishers—the Books Rights Registry—operating with virtually no restrictions on its actions, with the potential to raise book prices and reduce output to the detriment of consumers and new authors or publishers who would compete with the cartel members. Indeed, the agreement is even arguably unlawful on its face because it constitutes price fixing by horizontal competitors—namely, the Rightsholders, who are agreeing collectively on a mechanism for setting the highest possible prices to be charged for their works."
Amazon said it had only scanned those books for which it could obtain permission to do so from the copyright holder. Amazon's scanning project has to date resulted in the lawful scanning of over 1 million English-language works and 3 million books in total.