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Google Books Update

By Mary E. Rasenberger

Judge Chin issued his decisions today in the two motions in the Google Books case. He refused to dismiss the Authors Guild and ASMP for lack of associational standing, as predicted, and he certified the authors' class represented by the Authors Guild.

The case will go forward on the merits this summer.

Judge Chin called Google on the inconsistency of its arguments (as noted in the Authors Guild's and ASMP's briefs). Google scanned works indiscriminately claiming fair use - with no case-by-case analysis whatsoever - and here it is now arguing that fair use issues have to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis (and hence the right holders can't all be represented by an association).

Here's a quote from the decision:

Furthermore, given the sweeping and undiscriminating nature of Google's unauthorized copying, it would be unjust to require that each affected association member litigate his claim individually. When Google copied works, it did not conduct an inquiry into the copyright ownership of each work; nor did it conduct an individualized evaluation as to whether posting "snippets" of a particular work would constitute "fair use." It copied and made search results available en masse. Google cannot now turn the tables and ask the Court to require each copyright holder to come forward individually and assert rights in a separate action. Because Google treated the copyright holders as a group, the copyright holders should be able to litigate on a group basis.

The decision is availiable at: http://blog.authorsguild.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2012-May-31-Authors-Guild-v-Google-Class-Cert-Opinion.pdf

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