Google Book Settlement Hearing

A fairness hearing regarding the Google Book Settlement was held on Thursday, February 18, before Judge Denny Chin in a federal US district courtroom in New York City. The copyright class action lawsuit  related to the Google Books Library Project is entitled The Authors Guild, Inc., et al. v. Google Inc., Case No. 05 CV 8136 (S.D.N.Y.).

The lawsuit pits the internet giant Google google search pageagainst thousands of authors, publishers and other right holders, National governments and multi-national corporations, claiming that Google has violated their copyrights and those of other Rights holders of Books and Inserts by scanning their Books, creating an electronic database and displaying short excerpts without the permission of the copyright holders. Google denies the claims.

Today, Judge Chin was hearing statements from interested parties before deciding whether changes made to the settlement could withstand constitutional scrutiny.

The New York Times reported

“Supporters of Google’s effort to create the world’s largest digital library on the Internet told a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday that the library would benefit society, while opponents said it would infringe on copyright protections and violate the privacy of readers.”

Chad Bray of the Wall Street Journal blog reported “Thursday, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan said he wants to write an opinion at a later date outlining his views, noting there have been “voluminous materials” submitted in the case.”

The Judge will have to decide whether the benefits of the Google Books Library Project outweigh the rights of copyright holders. Is the Google Books Library Project a virtual library that the general public can benefit from or a commercial way to exploit authors without adequate compensation?

Even though the parties appear to be far from settlement some believe that an approvable settlement might be achievable, by requiring rights holders to opt in to the settlement. Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo oppose the Google settlement.

There is an administration website for the Google Book Search Copyright Class Action Settlement. The site has a claim form for copyright holders to claim a Cash Payment for Books or Inserts digitized by Google on or before May 5, 2009 that must be submitted March 31, 2011 (extended from January 5, 2010). Although there is no absolute deadline to file an Amended Settlement Claim Form.

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Vincent LoTempio

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