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Amazon gets legal on Google Books

by Scott Bicheno on 3 September 2009, 12:17

Tags: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)

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Objectionable settlement

The saga surrounding Google's proposed settlement of the class action lawsuit brought against it by the Author's Guild et al has taken another turn, with giant etailer Amazon filing a formal objection to the settlement at the district court of southern New York.

While the Author's Guild et al initially accepted the settlement, interested parties were given the deadline for filing objections of 4 September (recently extended to 8 September) and a Final Fairness Hearing scheduled for 7 September.

Amazon clearly wants some of that action, and reckons its part of the ‘class' by virtue of owning a registered copyright. It also reckons it has plenty to add to the fairness hearing, which it intends to attend.

This is an excerpt from the Introduction to Amazon's objection: Amazon also brings a unique perspective to this Court because it has engaged in a book scanning project very similar to Google's, with one major distinction: As to books still subject to copyright protection, Amazon has only scanned those for which it could obtain permission to do so from the copyright holder.

It goes on to say the settlement is unfair on copyright holders, anti-competitive and, in the form of the Books Rights Registry, creates a cartel of authors and publishers with virtually no restrictions on its actions. It even reckons the settlement might be illegal because it constitutes price fixing among competitors.

For those of you interested in the legalese, here are Amazon's main arguments:

  • The Proposed Settlement Should Be Rejected Because Congress, Not This Court, Is The Proper Body to Establish a Regime for the Digitization and Use of Works Whose Copyright Holders Cannot Be Found.
  • The Proposed Settlement Should Be Disapproved Because It Would Restrain Competition by Creating a Cartel of Rightsholders and Establishing Google as the Exclusive Distributor of Electronic Copies of Millions of "Orphan" and Other Works.
  • The Proposed Settlement Must Be Rejected Because It Relies Upon Expropriation to Achieve Control Over "Orphan Works" in Violation of the Copyright Act.
  • The Proposed Settlement Must Be Rejected Because it Purports to Release Google and Others From Liability For Actions They May Take in the Future That Are Not at Issue in the Litigation.


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