Breaking news: Judge Denny Chin has denied the Google Book Settlement.
From Judge Chin’s opinion:
The question presented is whether the ASA [Amended Settlement Agreement] 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. 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.
Judge Chin also notes that “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.”
The denial is without prejudice, which leaves Google and the Authors Guild free to go back to the drawing board and re-negotiate a revised settlement.
The full text of the opinion is here.