DOJ Asks Court to Reject Google Book Search, Pending Changes
The Department of Justice said the Google Book Search settlement would violate class action, copyright and antitrust law and said it should not be approved without changes. The DOJ suggested the parties limit the provisions for future licensing; eliminate potential conflicts among class members; provide more protections for unknown rights holders; address the concerns of foreign authors and publishers; remove the joint-pricing mechanisms among publishers and authors; and enable book-scanning rivals, such as Amazon, to access the books for resale.The Department of Justice Sept. 18 said the Google Book Search settlement would violate class action, copyright and antitrust law and said it should not be approved without changes. New York District Judge Denny Chin gave the DOJ a Sept. 18 deadline to voice its opinion on Google Book Search, a deal that would let Google scan millions of books online and charge readers to use them, with authors and publishers getting a share of the proceeds. Other parties were required to file their concerns by Sept. 8. Chin is holding a hearing on the proposed settlement Oct. 7.
The DOJ urged the court to order Google and the Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers to make changes to the deal: "This court should reject the proposed settlement in its current form and encourage the parties to continue negotiations to modify it so as to comply with Rule 23 and the copyright and antitrust laws."
"We believe this deal enhances competition among books and paves the way for competition in the online book marketplace, and helps disseminate information and knowledge in the best traditions of our industry. The DOJ makes a variety of arguments about class action procedure and antitrust. Some antitrust concerns outlined by the DOJ are overstated, and in any event can certainly be addressed. These should not be an obstacle to the court approving the legal settlement."The DOJ, meanwhile, noted that its antitrust division is still investigating the proposed settlement, but acknowledged its filing is a good gauge for how it feels about Google Book Search as it stands. Read more about this issue on TechMeme here, but Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan dissects the filing best here.