Judge Rejects Google’s Plan to Digitize All Books

March 23rd, 2011 at 7:51 am

Google’s deal to digitize every published book and make them available online has met its tragic ending after a New York federal judge rejected the company’s US$125 million legal settlement with groups that represent authors and publishers.

The plan, which is a pet project of Google co-founder Larry Page, is one of the most ambitious undertakings in Google’s history. However, it raises concerns about the company’s growing power over information, which Page wants to be freely available. Page is set to become Google’s CEO next month.

Judge Denny Chin cited numerous reasons for the decision, including copyright, antitrust, and other concerns. He said that the settlement went too far and would have granted Google a “de facto monopoly,” as well as the right to earn income from books even without permission from copyright owners.

The judge also stated that it is not too late for all parties involved to come up with a revised settlement.

The decision also comes as a bad news for the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, which sued Google in 2005 because of its book-digitizing project. After two years, the two parties signed a settlement amounting to $125 million that would have brought millions of published works into the digital age.

The deal, however, faced opposition from the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, as well as academics, some authors, copyright experts, the Justice Department, and foreign governments.

The major point of contention on Google’s plan is the company’s plan to digitize not just books whose copyrights have expired, which are already available through Google’s Book Search, but also out-of-print books and orphan works whose copyright owners are unknown or cannot be found. The move, according to critics, would have given Google exclusive rights to profit from millions of such works.

The opposition also said that no other company would be able to build a library that is as competitive as what Google aspired, thus would help cement Google’s dominance on the Internet search market.

Source: New York Times


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