Google Books class action settlement rejected

There has been a decision in the Google Books case.  It’s a story we have blogged several times in the past. (See our past posts on the subject)

The IPKat write-up on the decision “Google takes it on the Chin announced that:

“Federal Judge Denny Chin rejected the class action settlement which Google had painstakingly reached with a coalition of authors and publishers.”

As the NYTimes put it in their article: “Judge Rejects Google’s Deal to Digitize Books”:

Google’s ambition to create the world’s largest digital library and bookstore has run into the reality of a 300-year-old legal concept: copyright.”

All commentary describes how the Judge has left the door open for a revised settlement so we can expect to hear more on this soon.  The issues being discussed after this latest development are still orphan works and copyright owners being required to “opt in” or “opt out”.  On the orphan works NYT said:

“Even though it is efficient for Google to make all the books available, the orphan works and unclaimed books problem should be addressed by Congress, not by the private settlement of a lawsuit,” said Pamela Samuelson, a copyright expert at the University of California, Berkeley who helped organize efforts to block the agreement.”

And on opt in/opt out IPKat said:

“One of the things which the IPKat found most unpalatable about the settlement was that it required authors to opt out if they didn’t like it, rather than getting them to opt in if they did. Judge Chin seems to think so too, so now it’s Google which is considering its options.  Hillary Ware (a managing counsel for Google) is reported as saying: “Like many others, we believe this agreement has the potential to open-up access to millions of books that are currently hard to find in the U.S. today”.  It does, but so too does the abolition of copyright.”

The court decision is here for those who prefer to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

One response to “Google Books class action settlement rejected

  1. This news greatly overlaps with Wednesday talk in London on which I will blog shortly.

    For the moment I would like to add that apparently the British library estimates that about 40% of its works are orphan, which means that either the author cannot be found or does not step forward to claim rights over his or her work (and thus probably would be happy that their work is available). This continuous Google battle urges a policy decision on where and how to strike a balance between the rights of society to have digital access to its own culture and the rights of whatever minority of writers that no longer may want people to still read their work. The “opt in” option would be a more transparent and fair approach but how can unfindable writers do that?

    For the non-orphan works, the issue is purely one of competition and collective bargaining

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