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Google, publishers near settlement in books case
by Staff Writers
New York (AFP) Sept 15, 2011

Google and publishers told a US judge Thursday they are close to settling a lawsuit over the Internet giant's controversial book-scanning project.

Negotiations between Google and the Authors Guild, which filed suit against Google for copyright infringement with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) six years ago, do not appear to be making as much headway, however.

"We're encouraged by the progress we've made with publishers and believe we can reach an agreement that offers great benefits to users and rights holders alike," Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker said after a court hearing in New York.

Bruce Keller, a lawyer for the AAP, also said the settlement talks were promising.

"We've made enough progress in our discussions with Google that a schedule may not matter," Keller said in a reference to drawing up a calendar for a trial if the settlement talks fail to result in an agreement.

"We'd like to resolve the issue reasonably promptly," AAP president Tom Allen said following the court hearing, adding that it could be a question of "weeks."

Michael Boni, a lawyer for the Authors Guild, told US District Court Judge Denny Chin the guild was preparing to file an amended complaint against Google but wanted to nevertheless continue negotiations towards a deal.

"We'd like very much to continue a settlement dialogue with Google to settle the case," Boni said. "We'd be on a parallel track with litigation to work on a satisfactory settlement."

In March, Judge Chin dealt a major setback to Google's plans for a vast digital library and online bookstore by rejecting a proposed settlement reached between the Internet company and authors and publishers.

The 2008 settlement resulted from a class action lawsuit filed in 2005 by the Authors Guild and the AAP charging Google with copyright infringement over its scanning of millions of books.

The settlement called for Google to pay $125 million to resolve outstanding copyright claims and to establish an independent "Book Rights Registry," which would provide sales and advertising revenue to authors and publishers.

Google opened a Google eBookstore in December, a venture that is separate from Google Books, which was launched in 2004 and has digitized over 15 million books from more than 100 countries.

The Authors Guild and writers from Australia, Britain and Canada filed a separate copyright infringement suit this week against five US universities and the HathiTrust digital library project.

The complaint submitted in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York claims the universities obtained unauthorized scans from Google of an estimated seven million copyright-protected books.

It said the universities, through the HathiTrust consortium, plan to allow unlimited downloads by students and faculty members of so-called "orphan" works -- copyright-protected books whose authors cannot be located.

"By digitizing, archiving, copying and now publishing the copyrighted works without the authorization of those works' rights holders, the universities are engaging in one of the largest copyright infringements in history," the lawsuit said.

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Kindle e-reader ads get local
San Francisco (AFP) Sept 15, 2011 - Amazon on Thursday said it is getting into the local deals game with a Kindle software update for "Special Offers" versions of its popular Kindle electronic readers.

AmazonLocal on Kindle with Special Offers will launch in New York City and spread to other markets through the year.

People will be able to purchase local deals through Kindles using the same accounts set up to buy digital books, according to Amazon.

Offers can be redeemed by showing merchants digital vouchers on Kindle screens.

Kindles with discounted prices subsidized by on-screen ads have become the top selling models since they hit the US market in May, according to the Seattle-based online retail colossus.

Kindle with Special Offers e-readers that connect to the Internet at wireless hotspots are priced at $114 each and versions with 3G mobile network connectivity retail for $139 a piece.

Ads promoting deals on nearby bike rentals, comedy clubs, yoga classes and more will be added to the major brand advertising that has thus far been streamed to Kindles, according to Amazon.

AmazonLocal ads will be displayed as screen-savers when people aren't reading their Kindles.

"You can view, purchase, and redeem the deals using only your Kindle -- no computer, no printer, no hassle," Kindle director Jay Marine said in a release.

"We think customers are going to be thrilled with this new, convenient way to take advantage of AmazonLocal deals," he added.

Software enabling local deals on Kindles will be included in an update to current-generation e-readers in coming weeks, Amazon said.

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Qantas in 'world-first' tablet trial
Sydney (AFP) Sept 15, 2011
Passengers on Qantas will be the first in the world to have in-flight entertainment streamed wirelessly to tablet devices in a trial announced by the Australian airline Thursday. To be rolled out from the end of next month on one Boeing 767-300 flying domestic routes, the six-week test will see Qantas's current entertainment programme broadcast to a tablet supplied by the airline. The br ... read more

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