Federal judge rejects plans for Google digital library

He said the publishers wanted to “promote the fundamental principle behind our lawsuit, that copyrighted content cannot be used without the permission of the owner or outside the law.”

The Open Book Alliance, a group that includes Google rivals Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc., and Amazon.com Inc., called the ruling “a victory for the public interest and for competition in the literary and internet ecosystems.”

Attorney Cynthia Arato, representing a number of leading foreign publishing societies and foreign book publishers that objected to the settlement, said it vindicates the important concerns of foreign rights holders.

“Their interests weren’t adequately protected,” she said. “It would be wrong for a U.S. court to allow one company to usurp their fundamental right to control their copyrighted works.”

The case developed after Google in 2004 announced it had agreed with several major research libraries to digitally copy books and other writings in their collections. The authors and publishers sought financial damages and a court order to block the copying when they sued Google in 2005 after Google failed to obtain copyright permission to scan the books.

A deal was first reached to settle the claims in 2008 and was tentatively approved by the judge in November 2009.

Since presiding over a hearing on the case in February 2010, the judge has been elevated to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He acted in the role of a district judge to rule on the case.

At the hearing last year, the judge heard a lawyer for folk singer Arlo Guthrie and “Pay It Forward” writer Catherine Ryan Hyde say the library would exploit his clients with “woefully inadequate compensation” for “unknown and undisclosed uses.”

Microsoft lawyer Tom Rubin said the deal “was structured to solidify Google’s dominance.”

Neither lawyer immediately returned requests seeking comment.

Google lawyer Daralyn Durie testified at the hearing that fewer than 10 million of 174 million books in the world would be affected by the settlement and that 5 million of those affected were out of print. Google has estimated that about 130 million titles likely would get into its digital library.

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