Google Books Settlement Rejected

By Karen M. Sandler | March 22, 2011

We applaud the rejection by Judge Denny Chin of the Google Books class action settlement with authors and publishers regarding the digitization of books. SFLC filed a letter with the court on behalf of the Free Software Foundation and author Karl Fogel, urging the court to reject the settlement as it was last proposed and asking the court to consider the impact of the settlement upon members of the class who have distributed their works under Free licenses.

Judge Chen cited the objections of the class members as a key reason for the rejection. In our own objection, we pointed out that the settlement’s attempt to balance commercial interests in publication allowed freely licensed books to be distributed without regard for their terms, undermining the community’s unifying values - a harm which could not be addressed a royalty arrangement. We further pointed out that the settlement in essence would replaced the United States Congress as the entity responsible for devising copyright law. As Judge Chin writes in his opinion today, “the matter is best left for Congress.”

SFLC is pleased to provide a legal voice to clients like the FSF to defend software freedom and Free licenses generally.

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