Congress To Weigh Google Books Settlement

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The deadline for filing legal arguments on the controversial Google Books settlement may have passed.
But that doesn’t mean the impassioned debate of the issues surrounding
Google’s plan to create an immense digital library and bookstore will
die down anytime soon.

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled Competition and Commerce in Digital Books
that will be all about the landmark settlement of the class action
filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers
against Google in 2005.

Although the hearing is likely to attract some attention, the voice
that settlement watchers are most eager to hear is that of the Justice
Department, whose lawyers are investigating whether the agreement
violates antitrust law. The Justice Department has until Sept. 18 to
file its views with the court.

The debate Thursday is certain to be lively, with Google’s top lawyer, David Drummond, squaring off against Amazon’s
top public policy executive, Paul Misener. Other speakers include Paul
Aiken of the Authors Guild, Marc Mauer of the National Federation of
the Blind and David Balto of the Center for American Progress, who
support the deal.

Others witnesses are likely to cast a more skeptical eye on the
agreement, including John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit
that has opposed the agreement; Randall Picker, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who has raised antitrust concerns; and Marybeth Peters, the head of the United States Copyright Office, who has also raised questions about the deal.

Mr. Drummond’s prepared testimony is available here and Mr. Balto’s here.
An opposing view, courtesy of the Open Book Alliance, a coalition of
companies and organizations that is not speaking at the hearing, is
available here.

Those interested in a directory of all the filings in the case can find it here.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
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