It looks like Google’s attempt to bury the hatchet with authors and publishers in its bid to digitize a world’s worth of books may be in jeopardy after a New York federal judge on Tuesday rejected a $125 million settlement reached in October 2008.
Google promotes that settlement on its Google Books page as “with a broad class of authors and publishers to make the world’s books even more accessible online,” but Judge Denny Chin was having none of it. Chin said the deal would “arguably give Google control over the search market,” and that its terms went too far. Specifically: That the settlement would give Google a “de facto monopoly” on digitized content.
You may have heard that Google wants to scan and convert to text every book in the known universe. You may have heard that notion sold by politicians like John Conyers as possibly “the greatest innovation in book publishing since the Gutenberg press.” You may also have heard it called “a disaster for scholars,” or as UC Berkeley language professor and longtime NPR contributor Geoffrey Nunberg puts it, “a mishmash wrapped in a muddle wrapped in a mess.”