Judge rejects Google books settlement

“Google Inc.’s six-year struggle to bring all the world’s books to the Internet suffered another big setback at the hands of a federal judge,” Amir Efrati and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg report for The Wall Street Journal.

“Judge Denny Chin, in a ruling filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan, rejected a 2008 settlement that Google forged with author and publisher groups to make millions of books available online,” Efrati and Trachtenberg report. “The 48-page decision concludes that the $125 million deal would give the Internet giant the ability to ‘exploit’ books without the permission of copyright owners, echoing the U.S. Justice Department’s concerns about the deal.

“‘While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many,’ Judge Chin wrote, Google’s current pact would ‘simply go too far.’ The deal would ‘give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission,’ he said,” Efrati and Trachtenberg report. “In his decision, Judge Chin also noted antitrust concerns related to the settlement, including that ‘would arguably give Google control over the search market’ for books.”

Efrati and Trachtenberg report, “The judge denied the settlement between Google and the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers ‘without prejudice,’ meaning they could submit a revised pact that would better protect copyright owners. He also suggested a way to revise the deal: rather than let copyright owners of books ‘opt out’ of the settlement, copyright owners should be given the choice to ‘opt in.'”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Take that Google droids!!

    Quite seriously the only good thing to have come out of Google is search and maps.

    As for the rest, like Android, etc, mediocrity is too strong a word. Like comparing the genius of Mozart to the mediocrity of Salieri.

  2. Google: If we saw it, it’s ours. If we even heard about it, it’s ours.

    They made the first efficient search engine. That does not give them permission to steal.

    Wholesale capture of the copyrights of others without permission is an outrage, as is the copying of other companies’ patented technology.

    1. To clarify, Google doesn’t care about “owning”, they just want people to have access and the ability to monitor that access. That way, they can monatize the access by selling information to advertisers and inherit none of the accountability of owning.

    2. To be fair, Google isn’t making things “ours” so much as the make it “everyones”. Rather than keeping information for themselves, for the benefit of certain individuals or companies, they give away everything to everyone in the world for free over the internet, creating a level playing field of information access.

      1. If you truly believe that, would you please share with us information such as your Social Security number, your credit card numbers and PINs, your online banking user name and password?

        Isn’t that information that, like patented or copyrighted information, should freely be available to everyone?

        Surely, you are not selfish like authors and publishers and will agree that you have no special rights to the information I’ve requested.

  3. This is one of the things that scares me most about Google. They seem to have no regard for Intellectual Property or copyright law.

    Whether you like their tactics or not, Apple works within the realm of copyright law, intellectual preperty and artistic ownership. Google on the other hand, feels a sense of entitlement to anything that can be converted to data.

  4. Google exploits.

    They pirate code. Now they want to pirate books.

    Android is a bastard child of other’s code and ideas. Google exploits it for their benefit.

    They don’t care about your privacy, they stole that too and exploit it. They don’t own it but they sure use it.

    Apple is like a walled garden. Google is like crab grass and weeds trying to invade other’s gardens and it appears in every crack and crevice.

    Google was cool when it was a search engine and map service. What are they now?

    1. What does Google pirate software wise?

      Android is based on various open source projects such as Linux and others.

      The dispute with Oracle is over a JVM implementation known as Davlik, which again is an open source project. The case has not even went to trial yet and google has not been found guilty of anything at this point.

      Claiming Google PIrates code is about as accurate as me claiming that Apple pirates code because they used BSD as the basis for the operating systems!

      1. The issue that an operating system is “based on”open source code is irrevant.

        Apple has intellectual property rights for many features and actions of OS X and iOS. There is ongoing litigation against a vendor of a device that uses Android. The outcome could affect HTC and others who rely on Google’s Android operating system.

        1. That does nothing to answer my question.

          What software does google pirate?

          The Kernel of Android is Linux, the JVM is another open source project. What software is google pirating that belongs to someone else?

          If there is an issue with the JVM, that could have ramifications sure, or some bullsh*t patent gets defended in a court of law, but I don’t see how any of this equates to google pirating software, which is what was stated in the post I was replying to.

  5. The judge’s “solution” doesn’t solve the problem that Google Books was hoping to solve–providing some means of access to the thousands, or perhaps millions, of books that are out-of-print, but not yet in the public domain. The current copyright laws prevent reprints unless either (1) someone can figure out who currently possesses the rights to the work and obtains their consent, or (2) someone can confirm that the book was written before 1923.

    This effectively rules out republishing any work with an author who is dead, disappeared, or otherwise unable to identify a rights-holder who is able to give consent. The original deal requiring a rights-holder to opt-out of participating in the Google Books settlement circumvented this problem. Requiring an opt-in leaves the problem in place, since inability to obtain individual consents was why many of these useful works are still out-of-print.

    Although copyright has expired in most cases if the last-surviving author died before 1941, there are a few circumstances under which it might not become public domain until as late as 2035. Obviously, if the author is now dead or cannot be located, it is impossible to obtain his consent. Even if the heirs can be located, most publishers will not rely on their consent unless they are willing to guarantee that they still have the relevant publication rights. They may not be willing to certify that the author did not sell them without their knowledge (possibly before they were born). Conceivably, the rights belonged to some publisher that went under during the Great Depression, and it will require massive research to determine who owns the rights now.

    Nobody, not even Google, can afford to do that for all these out-of-print works. The books will simply remain unavailable at least for the next few decades, and probably forever.

    The notion behind copyright law is that the author of a work should be entitled to exclusive use of his work for a limited period, after which it becomes generally available to the public. An out-of-print book isn’t available to anyone. Copyright law in the U.S. initially required registration to be renewed every 28 years, so most of the “orphaned” books published before about 1982 would have been in the public domain. The law no longer requires registration, and the period has been extended to the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. An example of how long that can be: Irving Berlin wrote “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in 1911 and did not die until 1989. Under current law, the copyright would not expire until 158 years after it was written (in fact, the song is in public domain because it was written before 1923). No prudent publisher would reproduce anything much newer until a century or so has gone by, by which time it will have lost most of its utility.

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