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State AGs on Google Books settlement: We object

Five states join opposition to the settlement on the grounds that states, rather than the Books Rights Registry, should be entitled to unclaimed proceeds.

Five state attorneys general have joined the opposition to Google's settlement with book authors and publishers, objecting to the way the settlement distributes unclaimed funds.

Missouri's top lawyer Chris Koster has joined the opposition to the Google Books settlement. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster

The attorneys general for Connecticut, Missouri, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Washington joined the chorus of opposition to the settlement this week, filing briefs with Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York before the October 7 hearing to determine whether the settlement should be approved. The states involved are not pleased with the way the Books Rights Registry set up as part of the deal appears to usurp their ability to collect unclaimed payments on behalf of their citizens.

Under the settlement proposed by Google and several author and publisher groups, Google would be allowed to continue digitizing out-of-print but copyright-protected books and offer them--subject to rights holder approval--on Google Book Search. The company would then share a portion of the revenue earned from selling ads against those book search results, as well as links to book retailers with book rights holders, through the nonprofit Books Rights Registry.

The issue that irks the states is that when the rights holders can't be located, the Books Rights Registry would keep the proceeds on their behalf while they continue the search for those individuals or groups. Laws in the states objecting to the deal require the state treasurer to be the one who accepts an unclaimed payment on behalf of its citizens, according to a copy of the brief submitted by Missouri's Chris Koster.

Missouri said it objected only on that narrow issue and would not comment on the settlement in its entirety, but Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal also voiced concerns about potential antitrust matters, according to MarketWatch.

Google is reportedly talking with the Department of Justice about possible modifications to the settlement that could alleviate the Justice Department's concerns of the settlement, which has drawn intense scrutiny from various parts of the legal, technology, and publishing worlds.