updated 09:30 pm EDT, Fri August 3, 2012
Over 20 million books scanned, payment would reach billions
The group of authors suing Google over the search engine's book digitization project has asked a US Federal District Court in New York to force payment of $750 per book it scanned for distribution. The Authors Guild spearheading the suit, led by president Scott Turow, argues 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, but 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 have 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.
The Authors Guild represents over 8,000 authors, and the group has also taken a stand with Apple in its fight against the DOJ and Amazon over e-book pricing.