updated 05:24 pm EDT, Fri July 27, 2012
Company claims scanning system benefits authors
In a filing with the US district court in Manhattan, Google has urged the dismissal of a class-action lawsuit claiming the company copied thousands of authors' works without permission. Google has said that it has scanned 20 million books and has posted snippets of more than four million since agreeing with large libraries to digitize current and out-of-print works. Google claims the authors have demonstrated no economic harm from the indexing of the works, and reap the benefits of the online availability.
The company says authors actually benefit from the Google effort because the database helps people find and buy the books, and that there is a large public benefit from providing access to information that may be lost to the vagaries of the print industry when books go out of print. "Google Books creates enormous transformative benefits without reducing the value of the authors' work," Google said. "[it] therefore passes with ease the ultimate test of fair use."
A $125 million settlement was reached in March 2011, but rejected on legal grounds by Judge Denny Chin, despite him seeing tangible benefits to libraries from both the scanning effort and technology developed to scan the books. Judge Chin said the agreement overreached because it gave Google a "de facto monopoly" to copy books without permission from rights holders and served to increase its market share in online searches. The United States Justice Department, Amazon.com, and Microsoft all expressed antitrust concerns about the settlement.
In June, Judge Chin awarded class certification to The Authors Guild, saying that a class action would be "more efficient and effective than requiring thousands of authors to sue individually." Google was attempting to force each author to sue as an individual, rather than an organized group.