Deadline looms for Google books argument

The legal tussle over a deal which could see Google converting millions of copyrighted books for digital sale will enter into its final stages today.

A deadline in the US for arguments supporting and opposing a settlement in which the internet giant will team up with US authors and publishers to create an online library of out-of-print books passes at 3pm Irish Time.

An alliance motivated to block the move includes Google rivals Microsoft and Yahoo. Both are likely to spell out their objections in documents submitted today.

They could lodge separate appeals alongside the class action, as did internet retailer last week.

Under a 10-month old settlement, Google would act as a sales agent for groups representing authors and publishers.

The deal has raised fears that Google could emerge as as the ringleader of a literary cartel that would have too much power in determining the price of digital books.

These concerns have resulted in the US Justice Department opening an inquiry over whether the agreements violates laws regarding predatory pricing. It has until September 18 to file its findings.

All other interested parties were due to have supplied their arguments by Friday.

But on Thursday, US District Judge Denny Chin extended the deadline until 10am local time today. The delay was caused by the fact that the court’s electronic filing system went down.

Yesterday, Google made concessions to publishers outside the US. It said that books that were out of print in America but available elsewhere would not be displayed without explicit consent.

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