Google Argues to Dismiss the Authors' Book-Scan Lawsuit

Google has asked a Manhattan federal judge to dismiss a long running lawsuit aginst Google Books by the Authors Guild and the American Society of Media Photographers over the search- engine company's digital scanning of millions of books.They organisation accused the search-engine giant of copyright infringement when it signed contracts with libraries for scanning, distributing […]

Google has asked a Manhattan federal judge to dismiss a long running lawsuit aginst Google Books by the Authors Guild and the American Society of Media Photographers over the search- engine company's digital scanning of millions of books.

They organisation accused the search-engine giant of copyright infringement when it signed contracts with libraries for scanning, distributing and displaying about 20 million books.

Google told judge Denny Chin that the Authors Guild can't sue on behalf of the authors because the Guild doesn't own the copyrights to the books that Google has been scanning since the program was announced in 2004.

In a response to Google's motion, "judge Chin did not however make an immediate decision, but noted during oral arguments that "it would take forever" to resolve cases brought by individual authors and it "seems to make sense" to consider the lawsuits as a group," Reuters report.

Authors Guild lawyer Joanne Zack said Google was an "intimidating defendant" for individuals. "This action does call out for a mass litigation to adjudicate the mass digitization." "It would be a terrible burden on the court if each individual author was forced to litigate," Zack, told the judge. "A class action is superior."

Google announced in 2004 a plan to digitally scan books from public and university libraries to provide short snippets of text to people who use its Internet search engine. The Authors Guild, individual authors and publishing companies sued in 2005, claiming Mountain View, California-based Google hadn't sought authorization from the owners of the works. The two sides reached a settlement in 2008 that called for writers to opt-out if they objected to Google scanning their works. Chin rejected that settlement in March 2011, saying the settlement should be opt-in, instead.

Google has argued that the display of snippets of text is fair use under copyright law. Chin asked Google today why it was important at this stage of the case to determine the ownership of the copyrights.

The Authors Guild decided to litigate further and Google and the publishers say they are still hopeful of reaching agreement, perhaps sometime this year.

Google also asked Chin to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the American Society of Media Photographers group that sued Google in 2010 over the inclusion of copyrighted images that appear in the books Google has been scanning.

Judge Chin indicated that he'll consider Google's motions and announce a decision later.

Google has argued that the display of snippets of text is fair use under copyright law. Chin asked Google today why it was important at this stage of the case to determine the ownership of the copyrights.
'Ultimate Question'

"The ultimate question is who owns the rights to display a small excerpt of the work," Daralyn Durie, a lawyer for Google, told the judge. "Many authors contracted that right away to publishers."