In a case first brought in 2005, the Authors Guild has accused Google of copyright infringement as a direct consequence of the Internet giant’s efforts to digitize the content of numerous university libraries, including Harvard’s. This week, in a final brief before oral arguments, Guild attorneys have again decried the massive book scanning program.
What particularly keeps the Authors Guild up at night is the possibility that Judge Denny Chin will find Google’s scanning to be a “fair use,” and thus, not liable for infringement. So the Guild has a favor to ask of Chin – just dodge the fair use question, please, and let Congress re-write the law.
“In fact, this week marks the eight anniversary of the Authors Guild suit filing its suit,” notes Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. “Both sides have asked the judge to grant them a victory based on the evidence thus far.
As Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally, “For the Authors Guild, their argument boils down to this: Google Books is not some public service but a commercial attempt to gain an advantage over other search engines and to generate ad revenues based on a corpus of materials it created but did not pay authors for. Google counters that its scan offers tremendous public benefits as well as benefits to authors. And, it argues, there is no evidence of any harm to copyright holders. It does not display in-copyright books beyond snippets; it merely takes old print books that were moldering on library shelves and makes them discoverable on the Web.”
Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.