Google Book Search Hearing Delayed Again

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-11-09

Google and the authors and publishers with which it is trying to settle a five-year copyright feud on Nov. 9 asked the judge hearing the case for another delay so that they can make the deal more palatable for the Department of Justice.

Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers asked New York District Court Judge Denny Chin to delay filing a revised version of their Google Book Search agreement until Nov. 13, according to a letter sent to Chin by the parties' attorneys. The revision is intended to address antitrust concerns the DOJ has regarding the deal.

Google Book Search is the search engine's $125 million agreement with authors and publishers to scan millions of books online and license them to readers for fees. Several parties, including, Microsoft and Yahoo, have opposed the settlement.  

The case was supposed to be settled Oct. 7, but the authors and publishers in October asked Chin for an extension so they could make changes that would make the deal more acceptable to the DOJ, which objected to the settlement as violating class action, copyright and antitrust law.

Chin granted the extension (after postponing the settlement hearing) and asked the parties to file a motion for preliminary approval of the amended deal by Nov. 9, with the plan being to hold a hearing in late December or early January.

The parties agreed, but now it seems they have taken Chin up on his request that they inform him if they needed more time. According to the letter, a copy of which Google sent to eWEEK:

"On behalf of the parties, I write to advise the court that the plaintiffs expect to file their motion seeking preliminary approval of the amended settlement agreement by no later than this Friday, Nov. 13 2009."

Attorney Michael Boni, who has served as lead counsel in Authors Guild, et al. versus Google Inc., said the parties in the settlement have met with the DOJ since the Oct. 7 hearing, including as recently as Nov. 6.

What this latest delay means for a December or January date for the hearing is unclear.

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