Blown To Bits

DOJ to Court: Nix Again to Google Books Settlement

Thursday, February 4th, 2010 by Harry Lewis

The Justice Department objected strenuously to the draft Google Books settlement on antitrust grounds, and when Google went back behind doors with the Authors and Publishers to revise it, the DOJ’s objections were among those take most seriously in the revision. But the DOJ has just announced that it is still unhappy. The DOJ’s objections are very basic: “The [revised settlement proposal] 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.” That sounds like a problem that is going to be hard to fix with some clever lawyering alone, and the reports don’t suggest that Google is interested in going back for another try at redrafting. So we may be nearing high noon, where Judge Chin just has to give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down on a matter of monumental importance to the world of books and of ideas. Stay tuned; February 18 is his date for the final hearing.

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