Judge throws out revised Google Book Settlement
In court documents filed on March 22, New York Judge Denny Chin said: “While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA would simply go too far. It would permit this class action–which was brought against defendant Google Inc. to challenge its scanning of books and display of ‘snippets’ for on-line searching–to implement a forward-looking business arrangement that would grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books, without permission of the copyright owners.
Indeed, the ASA (Amended Settle Agreement) would give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case.”
ASA deals with two issues:
The first is the settlement of Google’s past conduct and copyright infringement. The second is an arrangement to permit Google’s proposed much broader future sale and exploitation of the works.
The judge concluded that “this second part of the ASA contemplates an arrangement that exceeds what the court may permit”. Chin added: “In the end, I conclude that the ASA is not fair, adequate, and reasonable. As the United States and other objectors have noted, many of the concerns raised in the objections would be ameliorated if the ASA were converted from an “opt-out” settlement to an “opt-in” settlement. I urge the parties to consider revising the ASA accordingly. The motion for final approval of the ASA is denied, without prejudice to renewal in the event the parties negotiate a revised settlement agreement.”
Some are claiming this as a victory: but though the Settlement had its flaws its major achievement was to bring Google’s scanning under some kind of legal framework, and establish a way for all parties to move forward. The ruling breaks that bond, and throws everything in the air once more.