updated 07:35 pm EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
Google: Fair use evaluation on each work needed
In a brief order issued by the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, Google has won the right to appeal the granting of class status to authors affiliated with The Authors Guild suing over the multi-million dollar book scanning project. The hearing for the appeal has not been scheduled.
"Plaintiffs seek to shut down a significant part of Google Books and to recover potentially billions of dollars," Google said. "With so much at stake, Google should not be forced to litigate without the full benefit of its principal defense."
Google argued that many class members would benefit from individual suits, and a case-by-case evaluation would be needed per work to determine whether the scanning and subsequent digital use of the work qualified as "fair use."
The Authors Guild has asked a US Federal District Court in New York to force Google to pay $750 per book it scanned for distribution, claiming that Google's effort does not constitute "fair use" under copyright law. Google told Reuters in an email that it believes Google Books "constitutes fair use by allowing users to identify interesting books and find ways to borrow or buy those books, much like a card catalog for the digital age." Google has argued for dismissal of the suit on "fair use" grounds.
A $125 million settlement was reached in March 2011 between Google and The Authors Guild, but was rejected on legal grounds by Judge Denny Chin, despite his saying publicly that he sees 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 had all expressed antitrust concerns about the settlement.
Google Books Statement of Facts Aug 2012