NEW YORK (AP) – The federal court overseeing Google Inc.'s settlement over its book-scanning program is giving authors four more months to opt out of the deal and review its potential pitfalls.
Instead of a May 5 deadline, the court ruled Tuesday that authors now have until Sept. 4 to review the agreement.
Under the Google Print Library Project, snippets from millions of out-of-print but copyright-protected books have been indexed online by Michigan and other libraries. Google has called the project, which also scans public-domain works, an invaluable chance for books to receive increased exposure.
But in a class-action suit filed in 2005, the Authors Guild alleged that Google was "engaging in massive copyright infringement." Within weeks, publishers also sued.
In October 2008, Google and the publishing industry agreed to settle their battle. The settlement calls for Google to pay $125 million while developing online sales opportunities for scanned books that turn up in Google searches. Google would get 37 percent of future revenue and publishers and authors would share the rest.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Google would also pay for the millions of copyrighted books already scanned — $60 per complete work to the rights holder — and for the legal fees of the Authors Guild and publishing association.
In November 2008 a judge had set a June 2009 date for a final settlement and hearing to decide if the deal is fair, reasonable and adequate. Tuesday's extension pushes back the final hearing on the settlement's approval to Oct. 7.
All other deadlines and key dates in the case remain the same, including the May 5 deadline by which a book must have been scanned in order for an author to be entitled to a cash payment.
But there may be another hurdle to the deal's approval. The Justice Department is reviewing whether Google's settlement violates antitrust laws, The Wall Street Journal said late Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Justice Department recently contacted Google and other parties for details on the settlement, the newspaper said, noting that it is unclear whether the agency would try to block the deal.