Court Rejects Google’s Proposal To Settle Copyright Claims

Posted on 3/24/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Federal appeals court judge Denny Chin has rejected Google’s proposed settlement of copyright claims arising from the company’s digitization of books. Since the case is a class action, the court, and not the parties, must determine whether the settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable.

In a deal with several research libraries in 2004 Google began scanning more than 12 million titles, some of which are still under copyright. Some of those holding copyrights sued in 2005.
“While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many”, the Amended Settlement Agreement (ASA) would “simply go too far,” Judge Chin wrote in his ruling. He also noted that the deal would “give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission.”

In 2008 Google reached an agreement with the Authors Guild and certain publishers to make millions of books available online. However, objections were raised and the parties submitted a revised settlement in which Google agreed to pay $125 million to establish a registry that would allow authors and publisher to register their works and get paid when their titles were viewed online.

In creating a registry, Google would be authorized to continue to scan books, sell subscriptions to the electronic database, sell online access to individual books, sell advertising on pages from books and make other uses.

The key problem for Judge Chin with the ASA is that Google wants copyright holders to “opt-out” if they don’t want their works included in the database. The judge suggested that many of his objections would be resolved if the settlement were converted from “opt-out” to “opt-in”. Last year Google lawyers said in court that the “opt-in” structure wouldn’t be viable.

The 48 page decision carefully considers the benefits of the settlement as well as many objections that were raised during the process.

For more information see Information Week and Wall Street Journal stories.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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