US Justice Department rejects Google's book settlement offer

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US Justice Department rejects Google's book settlement offer

Back to drawing board for Google in long-running copyright dispute.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has urged a federal court to reject Google’s recent settlement offer in a copyright dispute filed by publishers and authors over the web giant’s book search program.

A filing the DOJ submitted to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York late last week, read: “this Court should reject the Proposed Settlement in its current form and encourage the parties to continue negotiations."

The Department’s ruling will come as a blow to Google, which has been involved in legal action for several years now over its Book Search program designed to scan, digitise and make available online works from various research libraries.

The current debate centres in part around Google’s right to access so-called “orphan works” – titles which are no longer in print but still covered by copyright.

However, the DOJ did indicate that it was in favour of continued work towards a resolution between both sides.

“Given the parties' express commitment to ongoing discussions to address concerns already raised and the possibility that such discussions could lead to a settlement agreement that could legally be approved by the Court, the public interest would best be served by direction from the Court encouraging the continuation of those discussions between the parties,” read the filing.

The Open Book Alliance – a collective of organisations opposing the settlement – naturally welcomed the DOJ’s decision.

“The Open Book Alliance is pleased with the action taken today by the Department of Justice, which we believe will help to protect the public interest and preserve competition and innovation," it said.

“Despite Google’s vigorous efforts to convince them otherwise, the Department of Justice recognises that there are significant problems with terms of the proposed settlement, which is consistent with the concerns voiced with the Court by hundreds and hundreds of other parties."

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