Court Rejects Google Books Settlement

Last Tuesday, Judge Chin of the Southern District of New York threw out the Amended Settlement Agreement that Google had to agreed to with the Author's Guild and the various other plaintiffs involved in the a lawsuit regarding Google Books. The suit was originally brought by publishers and authors who were concerned with the potential for mass copyright infringement by Google with its creation of Google Books. The lawsuit was originally brought in 2005 after Google set up Google Books by working with various University libraries to scan countless texts which would then be made available on the internet. Google has maintained that their goal with Google Book is to better catalog books with a special aim at reintroducing out-of-text books to the general public. The problem with the program is that the copyrights on many of these scanned works have not run out.

Google and its adversaries proposed a settlement in 2008 that would allow Google Books to continue to be developed but that would insure the rights of publishers and authors were not forgotten. Under this plan, Google would pay the groups for the rights to the books and the authors and publishers would receive a certain amount of money made on book sales through Google Books. The settlement contained a default inclusion clause, meaning that authors that wished to be excluded from Google Books would have to explicitly opt out.

Judge Chin ended up throwing out this settlement because he found it to be inadequate, mainly it how favorable it is to Google. He noted the fact that author's must opt out and as well as how greatly it favors Google over its potential market competitors. It would have the effect of favoring Google over its competitors because if the settlement were to go through, Google would have legally recognized deals with any author to put their work on their website in the absence of an opt-out. Additionally, Google has a huge head start as it has been working on Google Books throughout the lawsuit and settlement. For more information and a copy of Judge Chin's decision on the issue see the following article from CNET.