Introducing “Ask Google” – First Up, “Are You Listening to the DoJ?”

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by Peter Brantley

The November 9th deadline for the submission of a revised book settlement is approaching rapidly. Google, the Authors Guild, and the AAP are presumably holed away in a room somewhere, trying to figure out what changes need to be made to the settlement terms to avoid a repeat of last time.

For those of us on the outside who care deeply about the future of books, but aren’t privy to those discussions, we are left with questions. And so we feel it’s important to put a voice to those questions, in the interest of the consumers, authors, publishers, and academics who could be significantly impacted by the direction this settlement debate takes.

Introducing “Ask Google”, a series of direct and public questions that the Open Book Alliance will ask of the company from time to time, in an effort to shine a light on what has been a closed and secretive process thus far. Our first question is, “Are you listening to the Department of Justice?”

We know how much Google and its partners want to push a settlement through. Yet, the Department of Justice found fundamental flaws in the original settlement, saying, “As presently drafted, the Proposed Settlement does not meet the legal standards this Court must apply.” The DoJ outlined multiple areas of concern, suggesting that a revised settlement would need to include major changes in order to pass muster. But Google and its partners continue to suggest that any changes they make will be nothing more than minor amendments, with Eric Schmidt of Google saying, “We don’t want to change it unless we need to,” and Paul Aiken of Authors Guild saying, “The basic deal is not changing.”

Here’s just a sample of what the DoJ said in its brief about the settlement vs. what Google and its partners are saying right now.

Stay tuned…over the next few weeks, the Open Book Alliance will be coming up with more questions to Ask Google.

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Important Dates

December 14, 2009
Notice begins

January 28, 2010
Deadline for authors to opt out of the settlement

January 28, 2010
Deadline to file objections and/or amicus briefs

February 4, 2010
Deadline to file notice of intent to appear at Fairness Hearing

February 4, 2010
DOJ response

February 11, 2010
Plaintiffs move for final approval

February 18, 2010
Final Fairness Hearing

March 31, 2011
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