Authors Granted More Time to Consider Google Settlement

by Staff

A New York City judge approved on Tuesday a four-month extension of the deadline for authors to agree or object to a settlement with Google Inc. over its massive book-scanning venture. The authors' consent would finalize an agreement made last October between the Authors Guild and Google, Inc. that settled a class action copyright infringement lawsuit brought against the Internet giant over its Google Book Search program.

Attorneys representing a group of copyright holders, including John Steinbeck's heirs and the Philip K. Dick Trust, delivered a request for an extension to Judge Denny Chin last Friday, stating that authors whose works are included in the project should be granted more time to consider and "decipher" the settlement agreement, a 334-page document that is "enormously complex and wide-ranging in scope and its determination of future rights." According to the letter delivered by the coalition’s lawyers, some authors would not have been able to meet the original May 5 deadline because they have only recently received, or have not received, the settlement notice.

Google spokesperson Gabriel Sticker told Bloomberg that the company supported the extension, which will allow authors until September 4 to respond, saying, "The settlement is highly detailed, and we want to make sure rights holders everywhere have enough time to think about it and make sure it's right for them."

Authors Guild president Paul Aiken was not so supportive of the postponement. "We'd hoped for a shorter extension of time, since we’re eager to get on to the next phase of the process," he told Publishers Weekly. "It’s not surprising, however. Nothing about this settlement has happened quickly."

More information on the agreement is available on the settlement administrator’s Web site.