December 14, 2011

It’s alive! The return of GoogleBS


“The Google Book Settlement may be dead, but the litigation lives on,” observes a Publishers Weekly report by Andrew Albanese. Or, as a Wall Street Journal report by Terin Miller explains, “The Authors Guild filed a motion in U.S. District Court here seeking class certification to proceed with reviving a six-year-old lawsuit it filed against Google Inc. (GOOG) over alleged copyright infringement. The motion, filed late Monday and made necessary because a federal judge in March rejected a tentative agreement between the Guild, several publishers and authors, and Google, alleges Google decided to ‘gain a competitive edge over its rivals’ by making digital copies of millions of ‘offline’ printed materials.”

To refresh your memory, the case came to a stunning conclusion last March — as this MobyLives report details — when Judge Denny Chin rejected a settlement deal for a 2006 lawsuit brought by the American Association of Publishers, the American Library Association, and the Author’s Guild against Google for, as Miller notes in the WSJ, allegedly seeking to “‘gain a competitive edge over its rivals’ by making digital copies of millions of ‘offline’ printed materials,” including many works still in copyright, according to the Guild, “without seeking or obtaining authorization from their copyright owners.”

“At issue,” as Miller more specifically details …

… is whether Google should be allowed to digitize out-of-print books that remain in-copyright without having to obtain or seek permission from copyright holders, and offer the content to be searched and displayed in the form of short “snippets,” as Google refers to them, as part of “Fair Use”–which has been shaped by precedent rather than codified in detail in the copyright law.

But in Monday’ s filing to revive the lawsuit, as Albanese notes, “Noticeably absent … are the publishers.” Why? Says Albanese, “At the September 15 hearing in Chin’s courtroom Google and the publishers indicated they were close to a separate settlement, leaving the authors to pursue litigation—or a settlement—on their own. While the parties are in talks, no seperate deal has been announced.”

Neither report mentions what happened to the librarians.

As to what’s next, Albanese reports that “Google will now have an opportunity to file its answer to the Authors Guild motion, due in January.”


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives