A US court has blocked an agreement between Google and publishers over the publication of books online.
The search giant has scanned some 15 million books and made them available online via its eBooks platform.
The deal Google negotiated was to settle a six year old class action suit claiming copyright infringement.
The New York court said the deal would "simply go too far", allowing Google an unfair competitive advantage.
The agreement with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers would have allowed Google to continue to digitise books and sell access online. In return, the company would pay £76.9 million in royalties every year to the copyright owners of the scanned books.
"The [amended settlement agreement] would give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case," said judge Denny Chin.
Justice Department spokeswoman, Gina Talamon, said the agreement "created concerns regarding antitrust, class certification and copyright issues."
In response, Google said the ruling was disappointing and Hilary Ware, Managing Counsel said "We'll review the Court's decision and consider our options. Like many others, we believe this agreement has the potential to open up access to millions of books that are currently hard to find in the US today. Regardless of the outcome, we'll continue to work to make more of the world's books discoverable online through Google Books and Google eBooks."
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