Judge Leaves Google Book Search Deal in Limbo
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 themes."
"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.