Will Google Get To Scan All Those Books?


The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers on the 21st asked a federal judge to delay an Oct. 7 fairness hearing on the deal so they could work with Google and the U.S. Department of Justice on amending the agreement.

Instead, Denny Chin, judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, will hold a status hearing on Oct. 7 to discuss the progress in amending the current proposal.

The case has been winding its way through the courts for four years. At issue: Google's plan to scan millions of books, placing their contents online and license them to readers for fees. The recent development to hold a status meeting comes as a result of Google's concession on Sept. 10 that it will allow Amazon and other online retailers to sell digital copies of out-of-print books covered by the settlement.

"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 the current settlement will be the operative one," Chin wrote in his decision. "Accordingly, the court will not proceed with the fairness hearing on October 7, 2009."

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According to Google, the company has made digital copies of more than 10 million books during the past five years. It maintains that allowing the digitization of books -- such as the roughly two million titles no longer covered by copyright Google has already indexed -- gives greater access to works that might otherwise simply fade away. Supporters have included libraries, disabled rights activists, technology groups, economics professors and lawyers.

However, opponents are concerned about copyright violations, as well as Google becoming a "monopoly provider" of digitized print. Others worry about privacy concerns, noting it would be even easier to track what books people are reading that it currently is. Google has said it will address that through a separate privacy policy created expressly to safeguard personal information.