“They are very complicated, complex issues, requiring us to delve into them in the dog days of summer,” a lawyer for Google Inc. reportedly said to U.S. Judge Denny Chin in a hearing today on the status of settlement talks between Google and author and publisher plaintiffs.

It’s been four months since Judge Chin rejected the litigants’ first attempt to settle charges that Google violated copyrights in the process of scanning books for its digital library. As we opined in March, addressing all of Judge Chin’s concerns would be a monumental task. No doubt the parties’ gaggle of lawyers have been piling up billable hours seeking an approvable solution, but Judge Chin is frustrated by the lack of progress.  He was quoted as saying, “I’m a little bit concerned. This is a six-year-old case.” He wants them to spend even more focused time in their air-conditioned offices and conference rooms.

So to cajole things forward, the judge set a September 15 deadline.  If the case isn’t “resolved or close to resolved in principle” by then, Judge Chin will set “a relatively tight schedule for discovery.”  Perhaps other than being forced to use the Bing search engine on their computers and smartphones, the last thing Google executives likely want to do is litigate this case. The plaintiffs similarly have numerous incentives to settle, but after so many authors and publishers objected to the original settlement, the plaintiffs’ lawyers may have changed their opinion on what is equitable since March.

What do you think?

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