- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO | Caroline Vanderlip believes the escalating debate over Google Inc.’s plans for a vast Internet library of copyright-protected literature will yield enough compelling material to fill a book.

That’s one reason why SharedBook Inc., a 5-year-old company run by Ms. Vanderlip, has set up a Web site so that supporters and opponents of Google’s digital book project can more easily post their opinions about a legal settlement, which will help fulfill or possibly derail the Internet search leader’s ambitions.

The site, www.gbs.sharedbook.com, was set to debut Thursday.

Using SharedBook’s annotation tools, anyone can comment on the complex settlement and other key court documents in a class-action lawsuit filed four years ago by authors and publishers. New York-based SharedBook plans to turn the dissertation into a book that will be sold “at cost,” Ms. Vanderlip said.

“We think this debate is a very important for the publishing industry,” she said. “There are enormous number of people discussing the pros and cons of this settlement.”

If the settlement wins federal court approval this fall, Google will have the right to make digital copies of millions of copyright books no longer in print.

While Google and its backers argue that the settlement will help the publishing industry and society by making obscure books more accessible, critics contend that it will concentrate too much power with a single company.

The misgivings about the settlement have piqued the interest of the U.S. Justice Department, which is examining whether Google’s expanded control of digital books would thwart competition.

Spurred by the protests about Google’s book settlement, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin in New York has extended the deadline for objecting until Sept. 7. A hearing to approve the settlement is scheduled for Oct. 12.

Report finds TV sales still strong

NEW YORK | Never mind the lousy economy: Flat-panel TVs are still flying off the shelves in the United States and Canada.

Sales of new flat-panel TVs totaled 7.8 million in the first three months of the year, an increase of 17 percent from the same period in 2008, research firm iSuppli Corp. said Wednesday.

Sales had declined in the fourth quarter from the previous year, and the industry was expecting to see that trend continue into this year. Sales are still declining overseas, but North American consumers seem to have a special love for big sets and are going against the flow.

ISuppli’s vice president of displays, Joe Abelson, attributed the increase to “cocooning.” People who have cut back on travel and other spending still find the money to improve their home entertainment setup, he said.

Ex-AT&T customers can file class action

NEW YORK | AT&T Wireless subscribers who felt mistreated when the company was bought by Cingular can go ahead with a class-action lawsuit, a federal court has ruled.

Cingular is now part of Dallas-based AT&T Inc. after buying AT&T Wireless in 2004. Some customers complained that service deteriorated as Cingular started dismantling the AT&T Wireless network and that they were forced to pay to get new Cingular phones.

The lawsuit asks the company to pay back extra charges, plus damages.

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