Thursday, October 1, 2009

Judge Okays Google Adjournment, But Moves Up Status Conference

Judge Okays Google Adjournment, But Moves Up Status Conference

By Jim Milliot --
Publishers Weekly (reprinted with permission)

As expected, judge Denny Chin has approved a motion filed by the AAP and the Authors Guild to adjourn the fairness hearing set for October 7 as part of the Google Book Search Settlement agreement. The judge threw a bit of a curve into the proceedings, however, when he ordered that instead of a fairness hearing he will conduct a status conference on that date. The AAP and Authors Guild had asked that a status conference be held November 6. In his order, Judge Chin said he wants to hold the hearing “to determine how to proceed with the case as expeditiously as possible, as this case has now been pending for four years.” Chin said parties that had filed requests to be heard at the original fairness hearing may still attend the October 7 hearing, but added that he will not hear arguments from them.

Chin concurred with the AAP and Guild argument that “it makes no sense to conduct a hearing…as it does not appear that the current settlement will be the operative one.” He noted that the original agreement raised “significant issues, demonstrated not only by the number of objections, but also by the fact that the objectors include countries, states, nonprofit organizations, and prominent authors and law professors.” But he further noted that the proposed settlement would offer many benefits to society and that “if a fair and reasonable settlement can be struck, the public would benefit.”

In an e-mail to its members alerting them to the judge's order, the Authors Guild noted that "we'll continue to work on amending the settlement to address the Justice Department's concerns."