A judge has given Google Inc. more time to revise a legal settlement that has drawn government scrutiny because it would give the Internet search leader the digital rights to millions of out-of-print books.
Under a change approved Monday, Google and groups representing U.S. authors and publishers now have until Friday to change an agreement reached more than a year ago. It marked the latest twist in a copyright lawsuit that the authors and publishers filed against Google's digital book project four years ago.
The revisions to the settlement were supposed to be filed by the end of Monday, but Google and its negotiating partners told U.S. District Judge Denny Chin they still needed to address objections raised in September by the U.S. Justice Department. Chin signed off on the extension without comment.
The Justice Department has warned it probably would try to block the current agreement from taking effect because antitrust regulators had concluded it threatened to thwart competition and drive up prices.
Some of the Justice Department's preliminary findings echoed concerns from a chorus of critics that include Google rivals Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.
Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., had insisted the settlement merited court approval until the Justice Department raised red flags.
In its current form, the settlement would entrust Google with a digital database containing millions of copyright-protected books, including volumes no longer being published. The Internet search leader would act as the sales agent for the authors and publishers, giving 63 percent of the revenue to the copyright holders.
The Justice Department believes the arrangement could lead to collusion that would raise the prices for digital books _ a format that is expected to become increasingly popular with the advent of electronic readers such as Amazon's Kindle.
Google contends its plan to make digital copies of so many hard-to-find books would benefit society by making more knowledge available to anyone with an Internet connection.
For that reason, the Justice Department has said it hopes an acceptable compromise can be worked out.