Google Books Defeats Copyright Infringement Class Action


On July 1, 2013 the Authors Guild lost its bid to certify a class of authors against Google Books. The lawsuit was filed in 2005 claiming that the Google did not have the right to copy books from its Partners (publishers and authors) and Libraries including: Austrian National Library, Columbia University, Harvard University, New York Public Library, Oxford University, Princeton University, Stanford University, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Google defended the Google Books’ effort as “fair use” under the Copyright Act that permits reproduction for scholarship or research but the factors in determining whether something is a “fair use” are:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals included the following in their Opinion:

Google also claims that plaintiffs are unable to “fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class, ...because many members of the class, perhaps even a majority, benefit from the Library Project..."

Apparently this dispute is long from over since the Court’s Order is without prejudice after a determination of whether Google Books is a “fair use” which means the Authors Guild can try to certify a class in the future.

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