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Authors and Publishers Ask Court to Postpone Google Books Trial

Book authors and publishers on Tuesday asked a federal court to postpone the Oct. 7 trial intended to determine the fairness of a deal they struck with Google over digital book search rights, saying they are trying to tweak their settlement arrangement and won't be able to finish in time.

In a letter to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Court of New York, the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers said the trial date should be extended in light of concerns raised last week by the Justice Department about their $125 million settlement with Google. The groups, which were the plaintiffs in previous class-action law suits against Google for scanning books without permission, said they agreed to tweak their arrangement with the online search giant.

Instead, they asked that the court meet with the parties Nov. 6 to discuss progress of negotiations between Google and authors and publishers. At that time, they asked for the court to reschedule the fairness hearing.

"To continue on the current schedule would put the court in a position of reviewing and having participants at the hearing speak to the original settlement agreement, which will not be the subject of motion for final approval," the authors and publishes groups said in the letter to the court.

Last Friday, the Justice Department recommended the court reject the settlement deal, citing concerns over potential violations of copyright and antitrust laws.

But the antitrust division of Justice said it hoped the parties would work out a new deal to address those concerns because it felt such a digital book project could provide great social benefits.

By Cecilia Kang  |  September 22, 2009; 3:38 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
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