October 22, 2009 | By Cindy Cohn

EFF Urges Court to Ensure Fairness in Google Book Search Amendment Process

EFF today led a coalition of authors, publishers, companies and nonprofit organizations in sending a letter to the judge overseeing the Google Book Search settlement urging the Court to ensure that those concerned about the settlement receive adequate notice of, and have sufficient time to study and comment on, any amended settlement agreement that Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers present.

Those following the twists and turns of the Google Book Search settlement will recall that the original Fairness Hearing scheduled for October 7, 2009, was put off because of what the Court called: "significant issues, as demonstrated not only by the number of objections, but also by the fact that the objectors include countries, states, non-profit organizations, and prominent authors and law professors." The Court received over 400 submissions about the settlement, including the EFF-led coalition of authors and publishers concerned about reader privacy, as well as significant concerns raised by the Department of Justice.

As a result, the parties have promised the Court that they will submit an amended settlement on November 9, 2009. Today's letter arises from the parties' discussions with the Court in which they have suggested that the amendments to the already complex agreement be subject to limited notice and ability to comment and a truncated schedule ending with a Fairness Hearing in late December or early November. It states: "We signatories raised different specific concerns and issues about this settlement from a number of different vantage points. We are united, however, in our concern that the parties' requests to limit notice and the time and scope of objections will be unfair to us and to other class members."

The Google Book Settlement is simply too important -- and too complex -- to be rushed through the court approval processes without sufficient opportunity for analysis and comment.

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