The Google Books case is headed to litigation. At a status conference Thursday, Judge Denny Chin adopted a proposed pre-trial schedule that, if followed, would have the case ready for trial by July 2012. But the conference also offered a ray of hope, as attorneys said that settlement talks were progressing. AAP attorney Bruce Keller told Chin that the publishers had agreed to the proposed trial schedule, but that substantial progress had been made between publishers and Google, and that he hoped the trial schedule would become "moot." Google attorney Daralynn Durie echoed that expectation later in the hearing, also telling Chin that progress was being made and noting that the business principals "not the lawyers" were in discussion.

“Today, we informed the court that the Association of American Publishers, the five publisher plaintiffs and Google have made good progress toward a settlement that would resolve the pending litigation regarding the Google Library Project," read an AAP statement issued after the hearing, at which AAP president Tom Allen was present. "We are working to resolve the differences that remain between the parties and reach terms that are mutually agreeable."

Authors Guild attorney Michael Boni also told the court that talks were ongoing, and that the authors were hopeful of a settlement, but it was clear that publishers had made more progress, raising the likelihood that the authors and publishers cases could be split, a possibility that was briefly addressed by the court on a procedural basis. For now, however, Chin adopted the proposed trial schedule and issued a single order. Under the schedule, the plaintiffs first brief, for class certification, would be due on December 12. Google’s rebuttal would follow on January 20. Discovery would aim to be completed by the end of March, 2012, and motions for summary judgment, assuming there would motions from all parties, would be in by mid-July 2012. "So we're looking at least another year," Chin noted, adding that the schedule was "generous, but agreeable" to him.

There was also some discussion of what the trial might look like: As he did in the last status conference, Chin suggested the case was about "snippets." Both attorneys for the Authors Guild and Publishers strongly rebutted that assertion, with AAP attorneys suggesting the case was about the unauthorized "copying, scanning, and storing" of books.

There was no mention of the recently filed suit by the Authors Guild against libraries, although Ned Rosenthal, counsel for the Authors Guild in that matter was in attendance at the hearing. Another parallel case, however, the photographers and visual artists case, did come up, over a procedural matter. Asked if the photographers and visual artists were content to continue to wait until the publishers and authors case progressed, an attorney in visual artists suit told Chin they were contemplating prosecuting the case differently after the latest extension runs out in October.