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Google seeks more time in Book Search case

Google wants 60 more days to find authors and let them choose to opt in or out of a proposed class-action settlement involving Google Book Search.

This post was updated at 5:53 p.m. PDT with details about an extension request of the May 5 deadline filed by seven authors.

Google said Monday it's seeking 60 more days to find authors and persuade them of what it believes are the merits of a settlement involving its online Book Search service.

The proposed settlement of the 2005 case filed by the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers involves Google's right to show information from books online--in particular "orphan" works that are still covered in copyright but that are in limbo, for example being out of print or written by authors who can't be located. Currently, authors must respond by a May 5 deadline to opt out, otherwise authors will be included in the settlement.

"The settlement is highly detailed, and we want to make sure rightsholders everywhere have enough time to think about it and make sure it's right for them. That's why we've asked the court for permission to extend the opt-out deadline for an extra 60 days," said Alexander Macgillivray, Google's associate general counsel for products and intellectual property, in a blog post Monday.

"It's pretty easy for credit card companies to contact their cardholders--they send bills to them all the time. The world's authors, publishers and their heirs are much more difficult to find," Macgillivray said. "So, as the New York Times recently reported, the plaintiffs hired notice campaign specialists Kinsella Media Group to tell them about this exciting settlement, and Google has devoted millions of dollars to fund this notice campaign. Kinsella started by launching a website for authors and publishers and a direct-mail effort. Beginning in January, Kinsella published ads in newspapers and other publications all over the world from Fiji to the Cook Islands to Greenland. And of course, they also placed ads right here at home in the U.S., in publications as diverse as Writer's Digest and USA Today."

Google is facing resistance to the settlement.

Seven authors last week requested a four-month extension (PDF) of the May 5 deadline due to the complexity of the proposed settlement, among other reasons.

"First, two months' time is insufficient to understand the implications of a settlement of this scope," the appeal letter reads. "Second, substantial defects in notice of the settlement undermine authors' ability to assess their rights; and third, more time is required simply to understand the complex terms of the agreement."