Internet Law

Federal Judge Nixes $125M Google Books Settlement That Would Have OK'd Digital Library

A federal judge in Manhattan has rejected a proposed $125 million class action settlement that would have allowed Google Inc. to avoid potential liability for creating a massive online digital library of out-of-print, copyrighted books by creating a registry to compensate authors, according to Reuters.

The plan to immunize Google from liability under international copyright law “would simply go too far” by providing that copyright owners would be included in the registry unless they opted out, said 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin, who was a federal district court judge when the case began, in a written opinion.

“While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many,” wrote Chin, the Internet behemoth has to comply with the law. In addition to copyright issues, there is also concern that the pact between Google Books and the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers could violate antitrust law.

As presently drafted, says Chin, the proposed settlement “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,” reports Bloomberg.

Additional coverage:

ABA Journal: “Un-Google That”

New York Times: “Judge Rejects Google’s Deal to Digitize Books”

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