Guild President Scott Turow said the online library was “an idea whose time has come.”

“Readers want access to these unavailable works, and authors need every market they can get,” he said. “There has to be a way to make this happen. It’s a top priority for the Authors Guild.”

John Sargent, chief executive officer at Macmillan Publishers Ltd., noted in a statement on behalf of publisher plaintiffs that the judge had invited the parties to request approval of a revised deal if they can reach one. He said the publishers were prepared to modify the deal and work to overcome the judge’s objections.

He said the publishers wanted to “promote the fundamental principle behind our lawsuit, that copyrighted content cannot be used without the permission of the owner or outside the law.”

The Open Book Alliance, a group that includes Google rivals Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc., and Inc., called the ruling “a victory for the public interest and for competition in the literary and internet ecosystems.”

Attorney Cynthia Arato, representing a number of leading foreign publishing societies and foreign book publishers that objected to the settlement, said it vindicates the important concerns of foreign rights holders.

“Their interests weren’t adequately protected,” she said. “It would be wrong for a U.S. court to allow one company to usurp their fundamental right to control their copyrighted works.”

The case developed after Google in 2004 announced it had agreed with several major research libraries to digitally copy books and other writings in their collections. The authors and publishers sought financial damages and a court order to block the copying when they sued Google in 2005 after Google failed to obtain copyright permission to scan the books.

A deal was first reached to settle the claims in 2008 and was tentatively approved by the judge in November 2009.

Add your opinion to the discussion.