Google Fights for Out-of-Print and Orphaned Books

On the same day that Google won a partial victory in the EU legal battle over trademarks, it may be headed back to the drawing board in its fight to hold the rights to millions of out-of-print and orphaned books.

There have been a number of challengers to the agreement that Google struck with the Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers, but none have been as significant as the U.S. Department of Justice, which recently asserted that the agreement could violate antitrust law.

As a result of this, a hearing that was set for October 7 to approve the proposed settlement has been postponed with the agreement of Google. The parties will try to put together a new settlement and have proposed November 9 as the date when they will all meet to discussion the adjusted terms.

Members of the Open Book Alliance, which vehemently opposed the settlement, are dancing in the streets. Member organizations include Amazon.com, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Microsoft, the National Writers Union, the New York Library Association and Yahoo -- some of whom will, under usual circumstances, cross that same street to avoid being seen together. In this case, however, they agree.

"This is a huge victory for the many people and organizations who raised significant concerns that this settlement did not serve the public interest, stifled innovation, and restricted competition," said a statement on the Alliance's blog.

What does this mean for the ordinary reader? Well, it means that it may be a bit longer before e-book enthusiasts have full and legal access to a vast array of books that are either out of print or unclaimed. Meanwhile, readers will just have to make do with what they can buy through online booksellers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or with several thousand older, public domain tomes available through sites like Project Gutenberg.

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