On March 22, 2011, Circuit Judge Chin, of the United States District Court of New York, denied the motion for final approval of the Google Books Amended Settlement Agreement (“ASA”) concluding that the ASA is not “fair, adequate and reasonable.”
The court recognized that the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many. However, the ASA goes too far by granting Google significant rights to exploit entire books without the permission of the copyright owners.
The court expressed concern that under the ASA, if copyright owners do nothing (ie. do not opt-out), they lose their rights. “It is incongruous with the purpose of the copyright laws to place the onus on copyright owners to come forward to protect their rights when Google copied their works first without seeking their permission.” Moreover, “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 this case.” The court also highlighted the impact of the ASA on foreign rightsholders.
We will continue to update our affiliates as (and if) this matter progresses.
The full court decision can be found here: http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov/cases/show.php?db=special&id=115.