US Circuit Court Judge Chin Rejects Google Book Settlement

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US Circuit Court Judge, Denny Chin, late this afternoon, sensationally rejected the merits of the Google Book Settlement as it stands, deciding in favour of plaintiffs, The Authors Guild. Following the previous Fairness Hearing more than a year ago, it did look as if Judge Chin would side in favour of the Google Book Settlement in its ASA form (Amended Settlement Agreement). Judge Chin delivered his opinion judgement to the Circuit Court saying:

The question presented is whether the ASA is fair, adequate, and reasonable. I conclude that it is not.

     While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA would simply go too far.  It would permit this class action – – which was brought against defendant Google Inc. (“Google”) 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.

     Accordingly, and for the reasons more fully discussed below, the motion for final approval of the ASA is denied.  The accompanying motion for attorneys’ fees and costs is denied, without prejudice.



DENNY CHIN 
United States Circuit Judge
Sitting By Designation 



UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  -X 
THE AUTHORS GUILD et al., 
Plaintiffs, 
GOOGLE INC., 
–  against –  OPINION 
05 Civ. 8136 (DC) 
Defendant.

The full official court judgement is here.
Significantly in his opinion judgement, Judge Chin suggested agreement could be reached if the ASA was presented in the future as an opt-in settlement rather than an opt-out one.
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