Google Gets More Time for Book-Scan Settlement With Authors

Google Inc. and a group of publishers and authors got more time to negotiate a possible settlement of a lawsuit over the search-engine company’s digital reproduction of books.

“We are not there yet,” Michael Boni, a lawyer for the authors, told U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan today. “They are very complicated, complex issues, requiring us to delve into them in the dog days of summer.”

Google was sued in 2005 by authors and publishers who said the company was infringing their copyrights on a massive scale by digitizing books and allowing “snippets” of them to be seen online. Chin objected to an earlier, $125 million settlement, saying it would be unfair to authors.

Chin, who kept the case after he was elevated to the appeals court bench from the U.S. district court in April 2010, set a new hearing for Sept. 15.

The judge told the lawyers today that he was “concerned” about the amount of time it was taking to come up with a revised settlement and indicated that he expected progress at the September hearing.

“If the matter is not resolved, or close to being resolved, I’m going to give you a relatively tight schedule for discovery,” Chin said. Discovery refers to the pretrial gathering and sharing of evidence.

Google Shares

Google rose $7.25, or 1.2 percent, to $602.19 at 1:31 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The stock climbed less than 1 percent this year before today.

“We’ve been working closely with the authors and publishers to explore a number of options,” Gabriel Stricker, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, told reporters after the hearing today. “Regardless of the outcome we’ll continue to make books more discoverable and useful through Google Books and Google eBooks.”

Google has scanned more than 15 million books so far.

The case is Authors Guild v. Google Inc., 05-CV-8136, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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