Thursday, September 24, 2009

Google deal to be 'postponed', others say 'dead'
23.09.09 Philip Jones in The Bookseller

The US Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers have asked for the Fairness Hearing into the Google Settlement to be postponed as they seek to address concerns raised by the US Justice Department last week.
If granted it will be the second time the Fairness Hearing has been delayed since the deal was agreed a year ago. The Open Book Alliance, which opposes the deal and includes Amazon and Microsoft, said the move meant the "settlement, as we know it, is dead".

The two plaintiffs, with the agreement of the defendant Google, have called for a "status conference" to be held on 6th November for the purpose of "discussing the parties’ progress" and determining when the Fairness Hearing might be held. In a statement, the plaintiffs said: "To continue on the current schedule would put the Court in a position of reviewing and having participants at the hearing speak to the original Settlement Agreement, which will not be the subject of a motion for final approval."Noting the "400 objections, briefs of amici curiae, and statements, both in support of and in opposition to the Settlement", the plaintiffs added: "In fact, depending on the contours of the amended settlement agreement, some objectors may no longer object and would choose not to travel to New York at all for the hearing. In any event, it is certain that holding a hearing on 7th October will not afford all those interested with an opportunity to review and comment on the terms of the amended settlement agreement. Plaintiffs also are uncertain, at this stage, whether any additional form of notice, however limited, might be required. They cannot address that issue until the scope and effect of the amended settlement agreement on class members is determined."

Judge Denny Chin, who will preside over the agreement has yet to pronounce on the request. Those opposing the deal wasted no time. The Open Book Alliance added: "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. It’s also an enormous loss for Google, which had been saying for months that no changes were necessary to the settlement."

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