Google’s idea of creating the world’s largest digital library and bookstore has stumbled into a 300-year-old copyright.
Google wanted to digitize every book published and make them accessible but was stopped on Tuesday when a federal judge in New York rejected a $125 million legal settlement the company had worked out with groups representing authors and publishers.
The project is that of Larry Page, the Google co-founder who is to become its chief executive next month. It has lots of support inside the company, whose corporate mission is to organize all of the world’s information.
“It was very much consistent with Larry’s idealism that all of the world’s information should be made available freely,” Ken Auletta, author of “Googled- The End of the World as We Know It.”
Judge Denny Chin pointed-out copyright, antitrust and mentioned that the settlement went too far. It would have granted Google a “de facto monopoly” and the right to profit from books without the permission of copyright owners.
Judge Chin recognized that “the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many,” but explained that the suggested agreement was “not fair, adequate and reasonable.” He left open the possibility that a substantially revised agreement could pass legal muster.
Judge Chin was recently elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, but handled the case as a district court judge.