The deadline for rightsholders to opt out of the proposed Google Book Search Settlement Agreement passed on September 4, 2009. That was also the date for interested parties to lodge objections to the settlement, and Judge Denny Chin says he received around 400 filings from groups and individuals objecting to or supporting the deal, or asking him to consider assorted legal issues.
Google has made efforts to assuage the concerns that have been raised, and has recently been in talks with the Justice Department about making modifications to the settlement to address antitrust concerns. However, the Justice Department wasn’t satisfied: in a brief filed on September 18, Justice advised Judge Chin to “reject the proposed settlement in its current form and encourage the parties to continue negotiations to modify it so as to comply with Rule 23 [which governs class action suits] and the copyright and antitrust laws.” Justice does think the agreement “has the potential to breathe life into millions of works that are now effectively off limits to the public” and could offer “important societal benefits”… assuming the kinks can be worked out.
The brief concludes that “the United States cannot now state with certainty whether the Proposed Settlement violates the antitrust laws in any respect.” The wording leaves the door open to possible antitrust action if the settlement is approved.
More detailed information about the Google settlement is available in the October 2009 Locus.