Judge Chin Says He Will Cut the Google Book Settlement in Half
*read or listen to this interview with Professor James Grimmelmann first if you don't know what the hell is going on here*

In a move that has shocked the publishing world, Judge Denny Chin has filed a brief saying that he has decided to cut the Google Book Settlement in half, letting Google host the first half of every book the company has scanned, and letting other interested stakeholders fight for the rights to the rest.

From Judge Chin's brief:

"It is true that Google should be rewarded for taking the initiative to scan and preserve all of these texts so that future generations may profit. But Google should not be rewarded with full copyright-infringement immunity for scanning books to which they did not secure the rights ahead of time."

"Additionally, many of the original authors of these books cannot be contacted, making them "orphan books," a new category that must be addressed by this Settlement in a unique and perhaps unsavory fashion."

"I see no other possible compromise to this orphan books problem, so I am commanding the Author's Guild, the American Association of Publishers, and Google to cut this Book Settlement in half."

Google will only be allowed to display a snippet from each book no longer than 50%, and these snippets must -- by law -- be taken from the front half of each book.

The conclusions to these texts will be up for grabs for anyone else who wants to scan and host them, causing many to believe that a "conclusion speculation" market might develop behind closed doors.

"We think this is a hard decision, but a fair one," said John Peter Franks for Google. "We would like to be able to host and control whole books, but at least we get the front half."

Representatives from the Author's Guild and the Association for American Publishers could not be reached for comment. However, Diane Massey, an associate editor at Penguin, was excited about the prospect of a split settlement.

"We think this is a fantastic compromise," said Massey. "People will find the books with Google, and then if they want to keep reading them, they will have to buy them from some other online retailer, like our own in-house ebook development program."

Not everyone was as happy about the prospect of the world's first collection of digital books being cut in half, however.

Ursula Le Guin, who has been vocal in her opposition to the Settlement thus far, went so far as to say that she would "rather Google just take the damn books than to have them split apart like that."

One little girl, dressed in a pinafore and holding a single flower, was especially upset about the verdict when it was explained to her.

"You mean they are going to cut Curious George in half?" she said with tears in her eyes. "Don't let them do it!"

Posted by miracle on Thu, 01 Apr 2010 17:56:45 -0500 -- permanent link

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