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Google, Allies Defend Book Settlement

Facing vigorous opposition to the settlement of the Google Books lawsuit, Google and settlement supporters are pushing back.

Google and organizations that support the company's proposed settlement with publishers and authors are pushing back against competitors intent on scuttling the deal.

Google enlisted academics and civil rights leaders to participate in a conference call for the press on Thursday to express support for the social benefits of the settlement, principally expanded access to books for people everywhere.

The company has also gathered a variety of supporting testimony and material to counter opponents' claims that the settlement gives Google a monopoly over online books.

Amazon, which could see Kindle e-book sales suffer as Google enters the market, made just such a claim on Tuesday in a legal filing submitted to the judge in the case.

The settlement, Amazon's attorney argues, "is anticompetitive and violates antitrust laws because it provides Google an effective monopoly in the scanning and exploitation of millions of works whose copyright holders cannot be located or choose not to involve themselves in this class action."

The following day, the Authors Guild, one of the groups that wants to settle its copyright claim against Google, issued a statement saying, "Amazon's hypocrisy is breaktaking. It dominates online bookselling and the fledgling e-book industry. At this moment it's trying to cement its control of the e-book industry by routinely selling e-books at a loss."

The Authors Guild defends the settlement as a way to make millions of out-of-print books available again and notes that Google will not have exclusive rights to those books. "The agreement opens new markets, and that's a good thing for readers and authors," the group said.

Today, Friday, September 4, had been the deadline for submitting comments about the proposed settlement, which is scheduled to be reviewed in a hearing on October 7. But yesterday, the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin moved the deadline back to 10 a.m. EDT on Tuesday because, according to the Associated Press, the court computers were taken offline on Thursday for maintenance scheduled to occur over the Labor Day weekend.

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