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Dept of Justice Rejects Revised Google Book Deal

Google recently revised an agreement it made with the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers because so many different countries and anti-competition bodies opposed the deal. Reached in 2008, the $125 million settlement would see Google scan and display thousands of out-of-print books. Unfortunately, it looks like the tweaks Google made to the deal were not enough to appease the Department of Justice.

Daily Finance reports that the DOJ's beef with the new agreement is whether the Authors Guild and the AAP have any right to speak for the entire industry. The Justice Department said that while it believed Google and the involved parties had approached things with the best of intentions, the revised agreement suffers from the same core problem as the original.

"Although the United States believes the parties have approached this effort in good faith and the ASA [Amended Settlement Agreement] is more circumscribed in its sweep than the original Proposed Settlement, the ASA suffers from the same core problem as the original agreement: it is an attempt to use the class action mechanism to implement forward-looking business arrangements that go far beyond the dispute before the Court in this litigation. As a consequence, the ASA purports to grant legal rights that are difficult to square with the core principle of the Copyright Act that copyright owners generally control whether and how to exploit their works during the term of copyright. Those rights, in turn, confer significant and possibly anticompetitive advantages on a single entity -- Google."

The opinion of the Justice Department is likely to contribute to the decision made by the U.S. District Court at the February 18 fairness hearing in New York.

Read more here.

  • lifelesspoet
    Seems no law is higher in the us then copyright law. Yeah, I'm cynical.
  • Jerky_san
    What doesn't make since about this is yes it will be a simi monopolistic practice. It will however revolutionize book making in general and would probably benefit everyone in the end.
  • JohnnyLucky
    It seems simple enough to me. For example, there might be authors of copyrighted books who might not be members of the Author's Guild. The Guild has no right to negotiate an agreement for those non-members. Some of those authors might be represented by another organization which was not a party to the negotiations. Some authors may be independents. There was no mention of family trust funds for deceased authors. There are too many variables for a rock solid agreement.
  • I agree Johnny... and if this is the ruling, I believe the Authors Guild and assoc. should return that settlement money... but we'll never see that happen.

    I'm on the fence about this. On one hand yeah, I do want to see books that have been out of print forever ago, and the copyright holder doesn't care to bring it back. On the other hand, who's to say the copyright holder won't bring it back. This happened to one of my favorite books: "Maya the Bee" I found a hard copy from 1964 by luck. If I hadn't found it, too bad, I would not have had the opportunity to read it for X amount of years. However this last year a publisher bought the rights and started print again. Perhaps instead of an opt out program, they should have an opt-in program, maybe with an incentive for copywrite holders to opt in.
  • void5
    Mmm... What exactly "anti-competition body" means? ;-)
  • This is ridiculous - the book publishers should be given the same sort of system that music has had for years: compulsory licensing, administered by the Copyright Office and designates (for instance, the Harry Fox Agency for music).

    Otherwise the result is far *more* likely to produce monopolies, as only truly giant companies like Google will be able to handle the legal hassles involved in millions of individual license agreements.
  • jhansonxi
    The book copyright problem with orphaned works is something that congress will have to fix. That's correct - the same congress that hasn't fixed anything for several decades. In other words, it won't be fixed and these works will probably end up forgotten or supporting another generation of copyright lawyers.
  • bydesign
    There is no problem other than google request to sell stuff that doesn't belong to them.

    I sorry if I write a book, those words are mine forever unless I sign them away. If that means they die with me so be it.