The Google Book Case Settlement is Dead

Last Updated Sep 23, 2009 2:20 AM EDT

The proposed settlement of the class-action lawsuit against Google Book Search is officially dead tonight. Just days after the antitrust division of the Department of Justice (DoJ) intervened in the case to urge U.S. Judge Denny Chin to reject the settlement, Google and the plaintiffs (the Author's Guild and the American Association of Publishers, et.al.) filed a motion for the hearing scheduled for October 7th to be adjourned.

As reported last week, the parties are already in discussions about revisions to the settlement that would address some of the concerns raised by a broad coalition of librarians, academics, authors and activists, (as well as Google competitors Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo), plus the governments of Germany and France.

These include worries that Google might end up with a virtual monopoly over the eBook market, reader privacy concerns, and other hypotheticals.

Besides Google and the plaintiffs, the DoJ clearly is now a player in the ongoing discussions, so it is reasonable to assume once the parties return to the court with a new proposed settlement, it will be structured in such a way as to virtually guarantee judicial approval.

For this reason, it is not at all clear that this development represents a setback to Google's plan to create a digital library of unprecedented proportions. Round One went to the opposition.

Google is still in the driver's seat to claim Round Two. After all, in the end, no one who thinks about the future of books should wish to derail the search giant's large-scale scanning effort that has the potential to bring millions of pre-digital books into the 21st Century.

You can read the full test of the filing here.

Related Bnet links:
DoJ Intervenes Against Google Book Search
DoJ Shoots Holes Through Google Book Settlement

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.