At 10 a.m. tomorrow, Judge Denny Chin will preside over the fairness hearing for Authors Guild v. Google in Manhattan’s federal courthouse. 20-one dissenters and five supporters will be given five minutes each to present their arguments, after which the U.S. Department of Justice will voice its concerns.
The modified agreement was settled late last year, but critics of the deal — most notably Amazon.com — argue that it violates copyright and antitrust laws, among others.
Among those who will take the floor in opposition tomorrow include representatives for Microsoft, AT&T, the state of Connecticut, Germany, and France.
The courthouse expects a big turnout, but both sides of hashed and re-hashed their points in the press many times over in the four years since the original case was filed. What’s at stake: the rights to about 20 million books that Google wants to put in a digital library, for which Google has offered to cough up $125 million to rights holders in exchange for copyright immunity.
Those for the settlement:
- Google told the Wall Street Journal in a statement that the settlement “stands to unlock access to millions of books in the U.S. while giving authors and publishers new ways to distribute their work.”
- In a statement earlier this month The Author’s Guild they said they see benefits to new markets for out-of-print books, but also see the digitization of the publishing industry as inevitable. Comparing it to the music industry, they argue that even a singular defeat won’t keep the threat of technology at bay, writing that “protecting authors’ interests has always been our top priority: in this case a timely harnessing of Google was the best way to do it.”
- Fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin called out the Guild for being a wuss, writing in her resignation that it had “sold [writers] down the river” and “decided to deal with the devil.”
- Richard Wright’s estate likened the settlement to the Patriot Act, asserting that it “aims to snatch in the blink of an eye what will only be fully understood by the population at large once its too late.”
- The Justice Department issued a press release in February saying the settlement, “still confers significant and possibly anticompetitive advantages on Google as a single entity.”
The fuss started in 2005 when the Guild, authors, and publishers filed a suit claiming that Google was infringing on copyrights by creating digital copies of books without permission.
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