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Appeals court breaks up class action in Google book-scanning suit

updated 04:04 pm EDT, Mon July 1, 2013

The Authors Guild changing tactics, arguing fair use issues on Google suit

The Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York finally ruled today that the class formed by The Authors Guild against the Google book-scanning program was inappropriately certified by Judge Denny Chin, the judge overseeing the case. The overturning judgement ruled that the certification was made before deciding if the "fair use" defense allows Google to legally display snippets of books it has scanned.

"Putting aside the merits of Google's claim that plaintiffs are not representative of the certified class -- an argument which, in our view, may carry some force -- we believe that the resolution of Google's fair use defense in the first instance will necessarily inform and perhaps moot our analysis of many class certification issues," said the panel about its ruling.

As a result of the ruling, members of The Authors Guild must now sue individually, rather than as a group. The Authors Guild has asked the court 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 believes that the book scanning effort "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 those same "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 Chin, despite his saying publicly that he sees tangible benefits to libraries from both the scanning effort and technology developed to scan the books. The judge said that 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.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09

    Gee, what a surprise: the tech company which spends the most on lobbying (Google) gets its case reviewed and probably ultimately dismissed, no matter how much damage it does to authors (which ultimately means damage to readers as well). Their rival, Apple, gets investigated on trumped-up charges over book sales. Move along, nothing to see here.

  1. LenE

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-19-04

    Wholesale theft of content, followed by transfer of that property to unwitting bystanders, to facilitate the selling of ads. That sounds like Fair Use to me. /S

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