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N.Y. Court Rejects Settlement in Lawsuit Against Google Books

google booksA New York court has rejected a settlement in a class action lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild against Google Books.

Under the settlement, reached in 2009, Google would be able to digitize and display excerpts from books that are out of print, even if they're still under copyright, or not authorized to be included in Google Books. The agreement quickly raised the ire of many organizations, including Microsoft and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, who claimed that the deal would hurt industry competition. Last year, the Authors Guild claimed that it chose to settle the suit because it didn't want to repeat the same mistakes that the music industry has made during its long legal war against digital piracy.

In a court document, Judge Denny Chin wrote that the settlement "would permit this class action...to implement a forward-looking business arrangement that would grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books, without permission of the copyright owners." Chin went on to claim that the agreement "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."

Neither the plaintiffs nor defendants seem entirely thrilled about the ruling. In a statement on behalf of the publishers who sided with the plaintiffs, Macmillan CEO John Sargent admitted that they didn't receive "the final approval we were hoping for," but are pleased that the ruling at least "provides clear guidance to all parties as to what modifications are necessary for its approval." The plaintiffs, Sargent declared, "are prepared to enter into a narrower Settlement along those lines to take advantage of its groundbreaking opportunities. We hope the other parties will do so as well."

Google, meanwhile, was even more dismayed by the decision. "This is clearly disappointing, but we'll review the Court's decision and consider our options," Google managing counsel Hilary Ware said, in a statement. "Like many others, we believe this agreement has the potential to open up access to millions of books that are currently hard to find in the U.S. today. Regardless of the outcome, we'll continue to work to make more of the world's books discoverable online through Google Books and Google eBooks."

Tags: books, class-action, copyright, court, digital books, DigitalBooks, google, google books, GoogleBooks, judges, lawsuit, Publishing, search engines, SearchEngines, settlement, top, Web