Federal Judge Rejects $125m Google Books Settlement
By Philip Yen – Edited by Chinh Vo
The Authors Guild, et al. v. Google Inc., No. 05 Civ. 8136 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 22, 2011)
Opinion hosted by The Authors Guild
Circuit Judge Denny Chin, sitting for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, rejected the $125 million Google Books class action settlement agreement between the Internet giant and groups representing authors and publishers. The court said that the deal went “too far” and held that the settlement was not fair, adequate, and reasonable.
Under Rule 23(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a settlement of a class action requires approval of the court. This will only be given if the court determines that the settlement was “fair, adequate, and reasonable.” Joel A. v. Giuliani, 218 F.3d 132, 138 (2d Cir. 2000). Although recognizing the many benefits that the Google Book Project could yield, the district court identified a number of countervailing policy considerations that weighed against approving the agreement. In particular, the court was concerned that the proposed settlement would release claims well beyond the scope of the pleadings, overreach into copyright regulation (a realm better left to Congress), give Google a monopoly on certain types of books, and implicate international law. Additionally, the court found that the plaintiffs had not adequately represented the interests of certain class members.
The Copyright Litigation Blog provides an overview of the case. The Electronic Frontier Foundation praises the court’s acknowledgment of privacy concerns and class action analysis, but takes issue with some of the its treatment of copyright law. (more…)