New York Court Dismisses Author Lawsuit Against Google Books
In a landmark decision in Manhattan yesterday, US circuit judge Denny Chin dismissed the case brought against Google by authors who claimed that the search giant had digitally copied millions of books without permission for its Google Books application. The judge “accepted Google's argument that its scanning of more than 20 million books and making snippets of text available for online searches constituted fair use under US copyright law”.
Authors had asked for $750 (£479) for every book the search giant scanned without authorisation as part of its controversial Google Books programme. They were also claiming statutory damages of $750 for each book Google had copied, distributed or displayed in violation of copyright law. Google had estimated that it could owe more than $3bn if the class action succeeded.
So far, so unexpected. Led by Scott Turow and The Authors Guild, the lawsuit began in 2005, and it’s not the first time Judge Chin has heard the case. In 2011 he dismissed a $125 million settlement over copyright and antitrust issues. Obviously, he still didn’t feel that the authors were right and has ruled accordingly.
But the judge said the massive library makes it easier for students, teachers, researchers and the public to find books, while maintaining "respectful consideration" for authors' rights. He also said the digitisation was "transformative," and could be expected to boost rather than reduce book sales. "In my view, Google Books provide significant public benefits," Chin wrote. "Indeed, all society benefits."
In this day and age, any way that people can find books is a benefit to authors, so I can’t really dispute his findings. Do you think this harms authors? Should they all be entitled to a slice of the pie? Or has the pie just opened up new opportunities for them?
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