As expected, lawyers for the parties in the Google Book Settlement today asked U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin for more time to negotiate a revised deal. But in sharp contrast to the last meeting in Chin's courtroom, the judge expressed concern about the lack of progress made by the parties so far, and seemed to question whether there was a deal to be made. Chin set another status conference for September 15, at 11 a.m, but warned the parties that if, at that time, a deal was not done, or close, he would put the case on a "tight discovery deadline," raising the possibility that litigation in the case could resume.
Opening the brief status conference hearing, Authors Guild attorney Michael Boni told Chin the parties were in regular contact by phone, and sometimes in person, but the issues being negotiated were "complicated, and complex" and the parties were just "not there yet." Chin, who was understanding of the complexity of the issues at the previous status conference, probed for more information.
"What's the prognosis," he asked bluntly. He repeatedly noted that the case was over six years old, with little discovery, and seemed eager to see progress on a new deal, or to get going with the litigation. "I have a sense that we'll come back here in September and you'll just want more time," Chin noted, saying that he would typically put parties in this situation on a tight deadline to push the negotiations along. "Google has all but said they would not accept an opt-in deal," he noted at one point, and he even suggested that the simple question at the heart of the case, whether Google's scanning and display of snippets was fair use, might be an easier path.
Google attorney Daralynn Durie reminded the judge there were complicated business issues as well as legal issue in play. "We're trying," Boni told the judge.