Reps. Gonzalez & Green Ask DOJ to Scrutinize Google Books Settlement; Protect Individual Authors & Publishers

Feb 03, 2010, 16:00 ET from Office of U.S. Representative Charlie Gonzalez from ,Office of U.S. Representative Gene Green

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Thursday, February 04, 2010, the Department of Justice is expected to file a brief expressing their opinions on the proposed settlement of the Google Books case. Earlier this week, Congressmen Charlie Gonzalez (TX-20) and Gene Green (TX-29) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing some concerns about the proposed settlement and sharing a letter they had received from several minority publishers who were worried that the settlement would impinge on their rights and those of other small businesses.

"The proposed settlement was negotiated between Google and the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild," said Congressman Gonzalez, "but it would affect every author and publisher in the country. Protecting the rights of individuals and small businesses is one of the chief responsibilities of our government, and no other source carries the weight of the Department of Justice. Small business owners are looking to the Attorney General to help ensure that this case is resolved fairly, providing justice to all. Digital book distribution holds out great potential and we have to see that progress makes the most of this technology for everyone, not just for the largest players."

"We don't want this settlement process to go forward if it will not protect the work of small and minority publishers," Congressman Green said. "We are asking Attorney General Holder to evaluate the revised settlement that was filed last November, and ensure that the rights of all publishers are represented and protected during the upcoming Fairness Hearing."

Google began scanning books in 2004, making complete digital versions of public domain works available on their website and providing portions of copyrighted works. The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers brought separate lawsuits in 2005. (A full timeline of the process is available here.) The two parties submitted a proposed settlement to the court in October, 2008. The Department of Justice submitted a Statement of Interest on the proposal in September, 2009. In light of the concerns expressed by the Department of Justice and several amicus curiae briefs, the settlement was withdrawn. A revised settlement was filed on November 09, 2009. Interested parties filed amicus briefs up to January 28, 2010 in anticipation of a Fairness Hearing scheduled for February 18, 2010.

SOURCE Office of U.S. Representative Charlie Gonzalez; Office of U.S. Representative Gene Green