Google Books Settlement Rejected

The controversial Google Books settlement has been rejected by US District Court judge Denny Chin. Chin’s conclusion says the settlement agreement “is not fair, adequate, and reasonable,” though he notes that many of his concerns “would be ameliorated if the ASA were converted from an ‘opt-out’ settlement to an ‘opt-in’ settlement.” While the motion for final approval was denied, Chin will consider a renewal “in the event the parties negotiate a revised settlement agreement.”

The agreement, first proposed in late 2008, was meant to settle the lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers against Google’s controversial program to scan and digitize every book in the world. Google agreed to pay authors for books they’d already scanned, to create a Books Rights Registry to serve as a universal database for rightsholder information, and to share revenue with authors.

One of the most controversial aspects of the program was that any authors who didn’t opt-out in time automatically agreed to let Google scan their works, and to sell any out-of-print works as e-books. The settlement drew objections from SFWA, the National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Microsoft,, SFWA, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, Consumer Watchdog, Open Book Alliance, the Internet Archive, the state of Pennsylvania, many individual authors and literary agents, and others.

Judge Chin will hold a status conference on April 25, 2011 in New York.