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Google Books legal epic moves to appeals court

Juan Carlos Perez | Nov. 19, 2013
After almost a decade of litigation, Google scored a victory last week over the Authors Guild, which had sued the company for copyright infringement over its Google Books search engine. But a few important chapters in the legal saga have yet to be written.

"We already know that copying and indexing web content was fair use, because of its transformative nature in enabling Internet search that we all rely upon," he said via email.

The Authors Guild was arguing for "book exceptionalism" -- that books shouldn't be considered in the same category as website content, Schruers said. "We now have several cases holding that digitizing works into a database, given the purpose is a transformative one that differs from the market for the underlying works, is fair use," he said. "Courts seem to view this rule as broadly applicable."

The Authors Guild plans to appeal the case to the Second Circuit of Appeals, where incidentally Chin now serves. It's likely that court will hear the case sometime next year. If the case ends up in the Supreme Court, a resolution would likely not occur before 2015.

In a statement last week, the Authors Guild expressed disappointment with the decision and said the case presents "a fundamental challenge" to copyright.

"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," said Paul Aiken, the group's executive director.

Google, on the other hand, said it was "absolutely delighted" with the decision. "As we have long said, Google Books is in compliance with copyright law and acts like a card catalog for the digital age giving users the ability to find books to buy or borrow," a spokeswoman said via email.

And so, this courtroom thriller will continue next year and possibly beyond.


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