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Google urges dismissal of class-action book scanning suit

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,, 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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09

    "Hey, the courts have let us get away with stealing intellectual property related to technology, why shouldn't they let us steal all other types as well?"

    Court reply: "Someone get Disney on the phone and see if they own any of these books."

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Google claims the authors have demonstrated no economic harm from the indexing of the works, and reap the benefits of the online availability.

    Oh how I hate it when lawyers lie like this. Without permission or even informing an author, Google posts someone's books online for free and then claims no harm was done to any of them. Do we buy books we can check out of a library? That's about how often Google's scheme inspires a sale.

    Well Google, put your own writings where you mouth is. Post the source code for your search engine online subject only to the limitations you placed on those books. According to your own claims, no harm will be done and, if fact, Google will "reap the benefits of the online availability." Do unto yourself as you do to others. And do it now.

    Give up Google. Your great theft failed. Now you've got to pay like the rest of us. And when you do, maybe you'll learn to follow the law rather than assume your money and your lawyers can get you out of any fix.

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