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Federal Judge Rejects Google Book Settlement

posted by Christopher Howard — Apr 05, 2011

Federal Judge Denny Chin rejected the Google Book Search Copyright Class Action Settlement, better known as the Google Book Settlement, on March 22, 2011. Citing copyright, antitrust, and other concerns, he stated that the settlement went too far and would have granted Google a monopoly over information without the permission of copyright owners. The US Justice Department and other groups were similarly concerned that the settlement would have given Google exclusive rights to profit from so-called orphan works, books whose right holders are unknown or cannot be found. Download a PDF of Chin’s ruling.

The original lawsuit, Authors Guild, Inc., et al. v. Google Inc., had been settled in November 2008 with an amendment approved in November 2009, but this Amended Settlement Agreement will not go forward as stated. Chin left open the possibility for a revised settlement, suggesting that authors opt in rather than opt out. A second class-action suit for copyright infringement brought by visual artists, who had been excluded as plaintiffs in the first suit, is still pending.

Many print and online publications have discussed the decision, its effects, and possible next steps. A selection of recent news and opinion pieces published by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Slate, and Inside Higher Ed, among others, can be found below. Several articles note that the judge’s decision gives Congress the opportunity to reconsider orphan-works legislation, which CAA has supported in the past. In addition, Roger Darnton, a librarian and professor at Harvard University, and others encourage the creation of a universal digital library, available to all.

Articles and Editorials

Jonathan Band, “A Guide for the Perplexed Part IV: The Rejection of the Google Books Settlement,” Library Copyright Alliance, March 31, 2011, http://www.librarycopyrightalliance.org/bm~doc/guideiv-final-1.pdf.

Robert Darnton, “A Library without Walls,” NYR Blog (blog), New York Review of Books, October 4, 2010, http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2010/oct/04/library-without-walls/.

Robert Darnton, “Six Reasons Google Books Failed,” NYR Blog (blog), New York Review of Books, March 28, 2011, http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/mar/28/six-reasons-google-books-failed/.

Editorial, “Google’s Book Deal,” New York Times, March 30, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/opinion/31thu2.html.

Amir Efrati and Jeffrey A. Tractenberg, “Judge Rejects Google Books Settlement,” Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704461304576216923562033348.html.

Miguel Helft, “Judge Rejects Google’s Deal to Digitize Books,” New York Times, March 23, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/technology/23google.html.

Miguel Helft, “Ruling Spurs Effort to Form Digital Public Library,” New York Times, April 3, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/04/technology/04library.html.

Jennifer Howard, “Judge Rejects Settlement in Google Books Case, Saying It Goes Too Far,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 22, 2011, http://chronicle.com/article/Judge-Rejects-Settlement-in/126864.

Steve Kolowich, “Google Who?”, Inside Higher Ed, March 28, 2011, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/03/28/usag.

Steve Kolowich, “Please Refine Your Search Terms,” Inside Higher Ed, March 23, 2011, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/03/23/judge_rejects_google_books_settlement.

Claire Cain Miller, “Book Ruling Cuts Options for Google,” New York Times, March 23, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/business/media/24google.html.

Jeffrey A. Tractenberg, “Google Book Deal Faces Big Hurdle,” Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703362904576218951641845230.html.

Siva Vaidhyanathan, “Google Block,” Slate, March 23, 2011, http://www.slate.com/id/2289155.