Another day, another new phase of the ongoing Google Books legal drama. Google’s proposed settlement with authors and publishers was rejected by the case’s judge, and both sides are now undoubtedly returning to the drawing board for the next phase of litigation.
Given that the duration of this case is approaching the 7-year mark, it’s probably not necessary to rehash it once again. Here’s a two sentence synopsis just in case, though: Google wants to scan and make searchable the text of every book ever published. Pretty much everyone in the publishing industry wants to stop them from doing so.
It seems obvious that Google’s stated goal in this is something that would be hugely beneficial (just imagine being able to search the entire repository of published human works from a single search bar), but it also really does seem like they’re trying to do an end-run around copyright in the hopes that people won’t mind too much, since it’s for a good cause.
The presiding federal judge in the case, Denny Chin, probably said it best:
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.