Google submitted a scaled-back settlement agreement minutes before its midnight deadline Friday, addressing some of the concerns the Justice Department, online booksellers and authors raised over its previous agreement to create a massive digital library.
But the revised settlement agreement is still under fire from some Web competitors and will still be reviewed by the Justice Department.
The Authors Guild and American Publishers Association sued Google four years ago for copyright infringement as Google was in the process of scanning millions of books. The parties reached a $125 million settlement earlier this year, but the Justice Department, among others, had concerns about the agreement. One primary concern was that the settlement would give Google too much control over unclaimed works. Another detractor, Amazon.com, said the settlement created an exclusive business arrangement betwen Google and authors.
Under the revised settlement, which was submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin late Friday night, the parties said an independent trustee would handle the licensing of unclaimed, or "orphan," works. The court-approved trustee would be able to license the works to competitors, including Amazon.com and Microsoft. The trustee would handle the revenue from those licenses, which would go to charities or to tracking down the authors.
Google also said its algorithm for pricing books would simulate the prices found in a competitive market. Dan Clancy, Google Books Engineering Director, posted more details and links in the corporate policy blog.
"We will review the agreement and our investigation is ongoing," a Justice Department spokeswoman said yesterday, before the new agreement had been submitted.
The spokeswoman added that, in its initial review of the settlement, Justice officials said they thought a properly-structured agreement would "offer important societal benefits."