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Authors to consider Google deal

Deadline moved to Sept. on project to scan books

By Erik Larson
Bloomberg News / April 29, 2009
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NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York yesterday gave thousands of US authors a four-month extension to either join a settlement with Google Inc. over its book-scanning project or object to the deal.

The extension of the May 5 deadline until Sept. 4 was approved yesterday by US District Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan. If approved, the settlement will resolve the four-year-old case, allowing Google to scan millions of out-of-print books and make them searchable online through its so-called Google Book program.

"This allows class members extra time to consider their options under the Google Book settlement agreement," Joanne Zack, a lawyer for the Author's Guild, one of the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview. The group was joined in the case by Pearson Plc's Penguin unit, McGraw-Hill Cos., John Wiley & Sons Inc., and CBS Corp.'s Simon & Schuster subsidiary.

Google in November won preliminary court approval of a deal to pay $125 million to resolve the class-action, or group, lawsuit alleging that scanning millions of books constituted massive copyright infringement. The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., said the program will create a new market for out-of-print books.

"The settlement is highly detailed, and we want to make sure rights-holders everywhere have enough time to think about it and make sure it's right for them," Gabriel Stricker, a Google spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Google had sought a shorter extension of 60 days in the case. Chin scheduled a hearing for Oct. 7 to consider the final approval of the settlement, which was announced last year.

The owner of the most popular Internet search engine said the agreement will expand its Google Book program to let online readers search for and buy copyrighted and out-of-print books in whole or page-by-page. Google will also provide US libraries with free access to the database.

The Google Book project, started in 2004, includes Harvard University, the New York Public Library, and about 10,000 publishers. The project includes older books that are in the public domain and newer books that will be scanned under separate deals with major publishers.

Under the settlement, authors and publishers will have final say on whether their copyrighted works may be used by the program. The deal lets Google keep 37 percent of revenue from online book sales and from advertisements that run next to previews of book pages. It will pass on the remainder to the Books Registry, which will keep an administrative fee and leave the rest for the copyright holders to collect.

Google won't share advertising that runs along search results that include links to book-preview pages.