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Google library project blocked by US court

New York court says the deal would have given Google an unfair competitive advantage.

Image: Mark Lennihan via AP/Press Association Images

AN AGREEMENT THAT would have allowed Google to publish millions of books online has been rejected by a US court.

In a 2008 deal between Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, the parties settled an ongoing legal battle over copyright infringement. The agreement would have allowed Google to scan millions of books to display and sell online, the BBC reports.

But a New York judge has ruled that the terms of the deal “simply go too far” and would have put Google in a position of unfair advantage.

Google’s library project has been in operation since around 2004 and has already scanned over 15 million books, estimated to be about ten per cent of the total number of unique books in the world. While some have hailed the project for promoting the dissemination of human knowledge, others have criticised it for its potential copyright infringements.

The rejected deal would have seen Google pay $125 million in royalties every year to the copyright owners of the books being scanned. However, the copyright status of the many of the books can not be established, and Google would have been enabled to publish these ‘orphan works’ for free, giving it an unfair competitive advantage according to judge Denny Chin.

The [amended settlement agreement] would give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case.

The US Justice Department welcomed the ruling, saying it was “the right result.”

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