Google made a settlement in order to scan millions of books and sell them online. This agreement was the result of a class-action lawsuit by the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers back in 2005. It concerned only books that were out of print but still in copyright. The concept was the following: publishers and authors agreed to a $125 million settlement to make a Book Rights Registry and to be paid when the titles are viewed online. For Google the benefit was to have the biggest library online.
Giants Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo and Open Alliance Content have estimated this competition was unfair. So they refer the settlement to the Federal Court. A federal judge in New York City, Denny Chin, rejected on the 22nd of March 2011 this agreement arguing that even if the idea was good and would have benefit a lot of people, it is going too far. He considered the settlement was not fair, adequate and reasonable.
Indeed according to the judge, this deal does not just allow Google to have a library where users are simply free to borrow; it would give Google a very significant advantage over competitors. Moreover judge Chin was worried about the settlement would be unfair to copyright owners. The 48-page decision concludes the $125 million deal would give Google the ability to “exploit” books without the permission of copyright owners.
However the judge did not merely reject the deal, he suggested an amendment to allow the settlement: rather than have copyright owners “opt out” of the class-action settlement, allow them to “opt in”.
Google managing litigation Counsel Hilary Ware had this reaction: “This is clearly disappointing, but we’ll review the Court’s decision and consider our options”.
In consequence Larry Page has to make a decision. What will the Google’s cofounder do: to follow Chin’s orders and open Google up to more lawsuits or for once to give up on becoming the world’s biggest online repository and just scan books when the internet giant would be allowed to do it?
Google and others concerned have until the 25th of April to submit a revised pact or to appeal.
To be continued soon…