Monday, November 16, 2009

Google Settlement Filed

Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly

by Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly

After two delays, attorneys for the AAP, Authors Guild and Google filed an amended settlement agreement late Friday night with Judge Denny Chin in an effort to end litigation brought by the publishers and authors against Google over its library scanning program. As expected by many, the biggest change in the agreement deals with international works. The agreement is now limited to books that were either registered with the U.S. Copyright Office or published in the U.K., Australia or Canada. The parties said that after feedback from foreign rightsholders they decided to narrow the class to include only countries "which share a common legal heritage and similar book industry practices" with the U.S.

In a change pertaining to unclaimed works, the revised agreement still calls for the Book Rights Registry to search for rightsholders and hold revenue for five years. A portion of the revenue generated by unclaimed works may now also be used to locate rightsholders and will not become part of the BRR's general operating fund.

The amended agreement makes some changes to the access models to the database of scanned works. While keeping the primary access models the same, future access models have been limited to print-on-demand, file download and subscription. The BRR will also be able to increase the number of terminals at a public library building. Google will also continue to allow other retailers to sell online access to the books covered in the settlement, a revision it announced in September. The overall financial terms of the agreement have not been changed with rightsholders receiving 63% of revenue generated from their works and Google 37%.

In a joint statement, the parties said that after reviewing submissions filed with the Court, including those from the Justice Department, changes made to the settlement "were developed to address many of these concerns, while preserving the core benefits of the agreement."

The new filing came after the original fairness hearing before Judge Chin set for October 7 was pushed back at the request of the AAP and Authors Guild as opposition to the deal, first announced last fall, mounted. Judge Chin had given the parties until November 9 to file an revised agreement, but granted another extension until midnight November 13.

Judge Chin is expected to soon issue a timeline that will include a notice period and an objection hearing, with the Final Fairness hearing expected to be held in early 2010.

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