LOS ANGELES — In a crushing blow to Google Inc.'s grand ambition to build the world's largest digital library, a federal judge rejected the company's plans to share and sell the millions of books it has scanned over the last decade.
U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin said this week that Google's agreement with publishers and authors "would simply go too far" toward giving the company "a major advantage over competitors in the electronic book world."
The ruling, a crucial development in a five-year legal saga, effectively keeps Google from offering to the public more than 15 million books it has scanned since 2004. Many of those books are no longer in print — available as hard copies in some libraries, but nowhere online — leaving a vast empty shelf in the world's storehouse of digital books that Google believes it could fill.