In his 48-page decision rejecting the proposal, Judge Chin suggested that the parties would have a better chance of success with a settlement based on an "opt in" model for authors and publishers rather than "opt out."
Google and the plaintiffs went back to the drawing board, stating to the court at different times this year that they were working on revising the settlement proposal, but they have apparently come up empty so far. In the meantime, the judge in September set a pre-trial schedule in motion, should the settlement discussions fail to yield a revised proposal.
The legal battle started in 2005 when the Authors Guild and the AAP sued Google, alleging copyright infringement from its program to scan millions of books from library collections without always getting permission from copyright owners.
That library scanning project, which Google launched in 2004, involves scanning the books and giving participating libraries digital copies, as well as storing copies on Google servers so that people can search them on the Google Books search engine.
Google defends the initiative as legal by arguing that it only shows snippets of texts in search results from copyrighted books it doesn't have permission to digitize. This, according to Google, is legal under the "fair use" doctrine, which allows for the reproduction of limited copyrighted material.
The plaintiffs allege that Google is violating copyright law because it has no right to copy books and store digitized copies on its servers without permission.
In another recent twist to the legal fight, the Authors Guild and other plaintiffs filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit in September against some of the universities participating in Google's library book scanning project.
The Authors Guild decision to open another battlefront against the library scanning project was interpreted by some observers as a sign that the possibility of a successful settlement had diminished.
Neither Google nor representatives from authors, publishers and photographers immediately responded to a request for comment.
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