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Google may modify online book deal

Bloomberg News / September 17, 2009

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WASHINGTON - Google Inc. and a group of authors and publishers are talking to the Justice Department about modifying a settlement to make millions of out-of-print books available online, two people familiar with the discussions said.

The discussions are aimed at easing Justice Department concerns the deal would let Google discourage other companies from competing for access to the books online, said one of the people. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

Earlier yesterday, US District Judge Denny Chin in New York ordered Google and the other parties to the settlement to respond to an outpouring of viewpoints questioning the plan to create a digital book library.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. The department isn’t a party to the settlement between Google and the authors and publishers. A Google spokeswoman also declined to comment.

Some companies such as Amazon.com Inc. argue that the deal would give Google unfair control over a vast database of books online. Also, library groups say they have concerns the deal could jeopardize the privacy of readers who get access to the books on the Internet.

Chin said he has received about 400 filings by individuals and groups who object to the deal, support it, or want some legal points to be considered.

The Justice Department, which is scheduled to submit its views of the agreement by tomorrow, is guaranteed to have time to speak at the Oct. 7 hearing.

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