[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a statement of interest [text, PDF; press release] Thursday urging the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] to reject the amended class action settlement [Authors Guild backgrounder] in a copyright suit [case materials] over Google's book-scanning initiative [Google Books website]. In its statement, which notes “substantial progress” toward resolving issues raised [JURIST report] in September, the DOJ cites lingering copyright and antitrust concerns in the proposed settlement. The DOJ also stated that the agreement would provide Google with "anticompetitive advantages" with potentially monopolistic effects. The Open Book Alliance [advocacy website], a group composed of some of Google's main competitors and several writers' associations, praised [press release] the DOJ's filing and said the current version of the agreement is "overreaching." The settlement is expected to be reviewed by Judge Denny Chin on February 18.
The case originated when two lawsuits were brought against Google by the Authors Guild [advocacy website], a group seeking to preserve copyright protection for authors, and by other plaintiffs including the Association of American Publishers (AAP) [organization website], McGraw-Hill, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster [corporate websites]. Under the terms of the original settlement agreement, which was reached [JURIST report] in October 2008, Google would pay $125 million to authors and publishers of copyrighted works. In return, Google would be allowed to display online up to 20 percent of the total pages of a copyrighted book, and would offer users an opportunity to purchase the remainder of any viewed book. In a separate case, a French court ruled [JURIST report] in December that Google violated French copyright law through its book-scanning initiative.