A federal judge has ruled that Google Book’s plan to scan millions of volumes of books and make them available to the world would potentially violate copyright laws. According to the Mercury News, 2 million volumes from Stanford’s 8.5 million volume collection have already been scanned.
John Naughton from The Guardian explained the backstory:
In 2005, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers sued for “massive copyright infringement”…the company and the plaintiffs reached an agreement: in return for a payment of $125m, together with arrangements for collecting and distributing royalties, Google would be free to continue with its project.
But Judge Chin wrote in his recent ruling that the settlement would “give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission.” Stanford supported the settlement because it valued making its works more easily searchable and preserving them in a digital format.
Google can try to appeal, reach a new settlement, or turn to legislators in D.C. to rewrite the laws concerning copyrighted books, specifically the “orphan works” that Google is now prohibited from scanning.