Germany challenges Google books settlement: minister

September 1, 2009
Fair-goers check out the Google stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2007. Germany on Tuesday said it opposed a legal settlement that would allow Google to digitise and sell millions of books online, arguing it violated international treaties on authors' rights.

Germany on Tuesday said it opposed a legal settlement that would allow Google to digitise and sell millions of books online, arguing it violated international treaties on authors' rights.

Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries told the Handelsblatt business daily in an interview to be published Wednesday that she had filed a 25-page legal brief with a court in New York that must give the settlement the green light.

"We hope that the court strikes down the approval of the settlement in the class-action suit, or at least excludes our German authors and publishers from the so-called class so the settlement has no impact on them," Zypries said.

Google reached a class action settlement in October last year with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers to a suit they filed against the Internet powerhouse in 2005.

Under the settlement, Google agreed to pay 125 million dollars to resolve outstanding claims and establish an independent "Book Rights Registry," which will provide revenue from sales and advertising to authors and publishers who agree to digitise their books.

The settlement still needs the approval of a US judge, who is to hold a "fairness hearing" on the deal in New York on October 7.

The deadline for filing complaints is Friday.

Last week, industry giants Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo! joined an alliance opposing the .

Zypries said ideally, German copyright holders should be able to decide for themselves whether Google may make their works available online.

She said the settlement violated international treaties such as the World International Property Organization Copyright Treaty adopted in Geneva in 1996, which stipulates that authors must be asked for permission before their works can be mass distributed elsewhere.

It also threatens initiatives such as the European online library Europeana which she said protected authors' rights.

And it undermines German authors' copyrights although she said had pledged to only make the books available online in the United States, Zypries told Handelsblatt.

"We all know that the Internet knows no borders," she said.

(c) 2009 AFP

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not rated yet Sep 02, 2009
Well, although I think this project of Google is very good, I still think Germany is right in the case. You cannot make a deal in USA and hope that the rest of the world will simply agree with it.
I want to see every book digitized and offered online for free or for some small price, but since Google will earn from this, they ought to pay to the authors. Every author, from every country.

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