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Judge authorizes class action status for aggrieved writers

updated 12:27 am EDT, Fri June 1, 2012

The Authors Guild certified as class, despite Google's wishes

A New York federal judge has given class certification to authors fighting Google over plans for the world's largest digital library. Judge Denny Chin ruled that a class action is ""more efficient and effective than requiring thousands of authors to sue individually." Google was attempting to ban The Authors Guild from the case, and petitioned the court to force each individual author to sue as an individual, rather than as a group.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the company was "confident that Google Books is fully compliant with copyright law." Google's main argument for individual suits was a copyright-ownership issue. Google claims the groups are not the owners of the copyrights, and they do not possess the individual facts about copyright ownership, economic issues, or specific details relevant to each author.

Google offered a $125 million settlement,, which was approved by the Author's guild in March of 2011. Judge Chin dismissed the settlement, but supported Google's book scanning effort, claiming it would be a windfall for libraries. The judge did not approve of Google's reacting to complaints rather than dealing with copyright issues in advance of the scanning effort.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2008



    Google miscalculated on this one. Google doesn't believe a guild should represent authors but it is apparently OK for Google to decide that they aren't breaking the law.
    This is not about a windfall for libraries Judge, this is about individual ownership and Google trampling on those facts by saying, in effect, "We know we are not breaking the law." Geez morons, you are copying whole books. How you could possible describe this in any way shape or form as "fair use" is beyond the pale. Just because you SAY you are doing it for the good of mankind, libraries, etc. doesn't MAKE it RIGHT!
    Remember when one of the Google Big Boys had a fit because someone found out all kinds of details about one of the big honchos by using Google to "eradicate" his privacy. What teeny, tiny, memories.

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: Jul 2006


    Google's Arrogant Lawyers

    Before this long dispute began, I warned one of Google's lead lawyers on his blog that their scheme was fraught with legal difficulties. I hate to say "I told you so," but I did.

    As an alternative, I suggested that Google throw its weight behind and international move to adapt the Berne Convention to the new technologies. Berne, which governs copyright law in almost every country, hasn't be revised since the late 1970s. International meetings to bring it up to date would allow everyone involved in copyright to have their say in the result.

    Instead, Google attempted a US and Google-only bypass of copyright law that benefited only them and that grossly abused class-action law. That failed. As a result, they're in big trouble, facing the potential for billions in damages, and international copyright law remains mired in the era of mainframe computers and no Internet.

    The real blame for all this falls on legislators, particularly in the US. Members of our Congress (both parties) only seem interested in changing laws when there's someone with money in hand asking for it. That's how we got that woeful copyright term extension in the late 1990s. Disney bought them off.

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