Denny Chin, judge for the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, declined to rule on the Google Book Search deal Feb. 18, saying that he would instead write an opinion on the deal. While Chin gave no timeline for presenting his opinion, opponents such as Amazon and Microsoft and supporters such as Sony held forth on the matter. Google Book Search, which has been vociferously opposed by Google rivals Microsoft and Amazon as well as the Department of Justice, remains in limbo.
A judge declined to rule on the proposed pact between Google and authors and
publishers that would allow the search engine to scan out-of-print works on the
Web and sell them to users.
Denny Chin, judge for the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of
New York, said at a hearing for the Google Book Search deal Feb. 18 that he
would instead write an opinion on the deal, which has been vociferously opposed
by Google rivals Microsoft and Amazon as well as the Department of Justice.
Chin gave no timeline for presenting his opinion.
According to BusinessWeek/Bloomberg, Chin said: "I am not going to rule today," adding that
he is still reading and considering the 500-plus court papers submitted to him.
"Voluminous materials have been submitted. There are recurring
Google and the Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers struck their Google Book Search deal in 2008 to resolve a copyright
infringement suit between Google, authors and publishers stretching back to
The agreement called for Google to scan millions of orphan books, or those
works for whom authors can't be found or are unknown. Google would then let
users search for them and pay to use the works, with authors and publishers
taking 63 percent of the sales and Google taking the remaining 37 percent.
Google agreed to pay $125 million to settle the grievance and set up a Books
Rights Registry to dispense the monies collected from book sales.
The DOJ and Google's search rivals opposed the deal, arguing that it would give Google too much
control over orphan works in an increasingly competitive space. Privacy
advocates complained that Google wasn't taking the necessary precautions to
protect readers' privacy.
Google, authors and publishers in November 2009 amended the settlement, though opponents were still largely
unsatisfied with the revision. The DOJ shot down the deal Feb. 4 because it said it gives Google
That led to today's court hearing, where Google, authors and publishers
asked the judge to accept the deal. A Google spokesperson told eWEEK after the
"As we stated in court today, we firmly believe the settlement should
be approved-not only because it complies with the law, but also because it will
help realize countless benefits."
Google's chief search rival Microsoft, Amazon (which is
building its own digital library), the Open Book Alliance and 20-plus other
entities took 5 minutes each to state their objections.
Supporters such as Sony, which makes e-reader devices that would leverage
the digital Google Books library, said Google Book Search would provide great
benefits to society. The Center for Democracy and Technology was concerned
with threats Google Book Search might expose readers' privacy.
Most opponents were concerned the deal would give Google a digital book
monopoly. Thomas Rubin, chief counsel for intellectual property strategy at
Microsoft, told the court the settlement would give Google exclusive access to
hundreds of millions of unclaimed published works.
Dow Jones (paywall warning) quoted
Rubin as saying: "It can't possibly be good for competition when the
vast majority of works are in the hands of an already dominant player."
Google commands 65.4 percent of the search market, according to comScore.
The Google spokesperson told eWEEK:
"We heard many times today from supporters and objectors alike that the
settlement offers an extraordinary opportunity to unlock access to millions of
books for students, readers and researchers in the U.S.
"We appreciate the concerns voiced, but we believe this settlement
strikes the right balance and should not be destroyed to satisfy the particular
interests of the objectors."
Chin's opinion is what matters most now, and he hasn't delivered it. That
puts Google Book Search right back in limbo.