Praise for Decision to Stop the Google Books Deal

The American Antitrust Institute (AAI) congratulates the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division on its role in convincing a Court to stop the Google books deal and Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York for his well-reasoned judgment. This relatively unusual participation in the settlement of a private lawsuit by the DOJ (and many others) challenged a creative and complex scheme that would have allowed Google to create, in Judge Chin's words, a "de facto monopoly over unclaimed works.”

Judge Chin agreed with the antitrust analysis and with the perspectives presented by numerous critics of the settlement relating to class action procedures, privacy, copyright law, and international law. He rejected the settlement as not being "fair, adequate, and reasonable,” the test required in class action settlements.

The opinion left open the door for Google and its litigation partners to come forward with a revised settlement.  The opinion also suggested that a revised settlement might have a better chance if it operates on an opt-in basis rather than the currently proposed opt-out basis. Judge Chin also emphasized that changing broad copyright protections without consent from those whose property rights would be affected should be left to legislative determination.

“I applaud Google’s creativity and vision manifested in the book deal, while worrying about its potential for revolutionizing the world’s cultural resources in short order,” said AAI President Bert Foer.  “We must remain vigilant that unnecessary harms are not imposed without fair, adequate, and reasonable protections. The DOJ and the Court have functioned well in this matter.”

The AAI issued a statement raising antitrust questions about the deal early in the controversy.