Google Books Virtual Library Plan Blocked by Federal Court

Mar 24th, 2011 | By | Category: Marketing

Since 2004, Google Books has scanned 12 million books in a quest to scan every book ever printed into an online digital library. But a New York federal district court has sided with plaintiffs objecting to the effort on copyright infringement and antitrust grounds, in a decision announced this week.

M18 Google Book Search 300x225 Google Books Virtual Library Plan Blocked by Federal Court

Photo by Andrew Turner

The decision rejected a proposed settlement called the Amended Settle Agreement (ASA), reached in 2009 between Google Books and the Authors Guild, a publishing trade group. The settlement, which the Authors Guild has said was designed to protect in-print books, would have allowed Google Books to scan in and display 12 million titles, including out-of-print books that are neither in the public domain nor authorized by publishers to appear in Google Books.

The proposed settlement raised opposition from authors, publishers, academics, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Open Book Alliance, and Microsoft, among others. Some criticized the settlement for not protecting intellectual property owners’ copyrights. Others complained the settlement was anti-competitive, giving Google too much of a monopoly in the digital book market.

This week United States Circuit Judge Denny Chin decided against Google. “While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA would simply go too far,” Chin said in a court document. “It . . . 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.”

Following the decision, Authors Guild President Scott Turow said, “we’ll be studying Judge Chin’s decision and plan on talking to the publishers and Google with the hope that we can arrive at a settlement within the court’s parameters that makes sense for all parties. . . Readers want access to these unavailable works, and authors need every market they can get. There has to be a way to make this happen.”

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