Judgment Day for Google Book Search

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-02-18 Print this article Print

Today, Feb. 18 may be Judgment Day for Google's Book Search settlement, which has been more than five years in the making.

Google, authors and publishers are expected to hear Denny Chin, a judge for the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, hold a fairness hearing for the deal, which calls for Google to scan and sell access to millions of out-of-print works.

The proceedings will begin at 10 a.m. local time at the courthouse in Manhattan, according to the Wall Street Journal, which lists the itinerary here.

Some 28 parties will have five minutes to speak, 23 of which oppose the deal, which has been amended to meet class-action, anticompetitive and other issues.

Opponents of the deal slated to speak include Microsoft, Amazon, whose Kindle e-reading business would be challenged by Google Books, the Open Book Alliance, led by Microsoft antitrust slayer Gary Reback, the State of Connecticut, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Only Sony, the National Federation of the Blind, Howard University School of Law, the Center for Democracy and Technology and the University of Michigan Library will speak in support of the agreement.

As if the deck isn't stacked enough against the pact, the Department of Justice, which believes the deal will enable Google to cultivate a monopoly in the nascent electronic book market, will speak.

Finally, the settlement parties -- Google, the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers -- will make their case for why they should be permitted to proceed.

After all that, Chin may make a decision for or against the deal, or just order another revision.

Obviously, striking down the deal would be a huge blow for Google, which has pumped a lot of time and resources, including computer infrastructure, for this deal.

But if Chin orders the parties to undertake another revision to assuage the DOJ's concerns -- namely that it affords Google "anticompetitive advantages --Google may find the revisions the government agency is asking for untenable and abandon the deal outright.

To get you up to speed, CNET has a fine timeline of Google Book Search here.

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