In the mood for some evening reading about the future of online books? Here’s the full text of the ruling in which a federal judge today turned down Google’s 2008 settlement with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers over the search giant’s proposal to scan millions of books: PDF, 48 pages.
But if you’re more up for some Cliff’s Notes, here are the key paragraphs from U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin’s legal tome.
While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA (amended settlement agreement) 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 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. …
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.
As noted by the Wall Street Journal, Google has said an opt-in structure wouldn’t work.