The Authors Guild responded to our request for comment after Wednesday’s Publishers Lunch was dispatched. Executive director Paul Aiken said, “We plan to appeal the decision” from Judge Denny Chin finding that Google’s book scanning was protected fair use under copyright law.
Aikens added: “We disagree with and are disappointed by the court’s decision. This case presents a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court. Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world’s valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of the fair use defense.”
In July, however, the appeals court cast doubt on whether they would even support the certification of the author class in the suit — postponing a decision until after Judge Denny Chin ruled on the basic allegations of copyright infringement. At the time, the court said “Google’s claim that plaintiffs are not representative of the certified class” is “an argument which, in our view, may carry some force.”
And a case raising some similar issues is already before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, with a ruling due soon. At the end of October, a three-judge panel heard oral arguments in the Authors Guild’s appeal of the ruling from the Hathi Trust case that also found the library scanning project as fair use. One attendee posted notes from that hearing.
In that case, District Court Judge Harold Baer also found that millions of full-text book scans were a “transformative” use that “provides access to print-disabled individuals on an equal footing with sighted individuals” and “creates a searchable inventory of their works.”