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Online Distribution of Copyright Works: Judge Chin Rejects Google Books Settlement

Isabel Davies, Holly Strube, Jun 22, 2011

In the first article on this topic, we discussed the position following the first draft settlement agreement in the Google Books dispute, presenting it in a broader European policy context. However, for those who don't recall the article, the background to this case is as follows. In the autumn of 2005 the Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers brought a class action lawsuit against Google challenging the scanning in of in-copyright books. Under U.S. law, court approval is required for the settlement of a class action. The judge presiding over the case is required to determine whether any settlement reached is fair, reasonable, and adequate to the class on whose behalf it was negotiated.

The parties produced a first draft settlement agreement.  However, this was amended due to the number of objections lodged, in particular by the U.S. Department of Justice. The fairness hearing in relation to this Google Books settlement agreement was held on February 18, 2010. Judge Chin, presiding, took into consideration strong opposition from the Department of Justice, governments of France and Germany, Google's most prominent competitors, public interest organizations, and hundreds of authors and publishers and turned it down. The amended settlement agreement was presented to Judge Chin; his judgment on this amended agreement was handed down in March 2011.

This article will first look at this Amended Settlement Agreement ("ASA), which was before Judge Chin for his consideration, and then Judge Chin's decision. It will look at potential changes to copyright law and, finally, it will look at the European Commission's current position on mass digitization.

 

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