Authors Guild appeals decision in Google Books copyright suit

The trade association for authors appeals a judge's decision to dismiss its lawsuit against the Web giant for scanning and digitizing millions of books without copyright holders' permission.

Jonathan Skillings/CNET

The Authors Guild has stuck to its word in promising to appeal a federal judge's decision to dismiss its copyright infringement lawsuit against Google Books. The trade association that represents book authors has filed an appeal to the Second Circuit court, according to Publishers Weekly.

This suit has dragged on for the last eight years. It involves the Authors Guild alleging that Google's scanning and digitizing of all or portions of books and publishing them on the Web in its Google Print Library Project constitutes a "massive" copyright infringement. These texts are searchable on Google Books where the Web giant is also able to sell advertisements.

The Google Books project has indexed millions of books, digitizing them without copyright holders' permission. For its part, Google maintains these books come under "fair use" -- a doctrine that permits one party to use another's copyrighted works even without permission. One example of fair use includes showing a movie excerpt in a review.

In November, Google scored a victory when US Circuit Judge Denny Chin dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that books are like Web pages when it comes to indexing them and displaying small excerpts in search results. He agreed with Google's assertion that showing "snippets" of book content in search results constitutes fair use.

"In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits," Chin wrote in his opinion. "It advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders. It has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers, librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books."

The Authors Guild believes that Google's project exceeds fair use and is now looking for another court to back its opinion. Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken told Publishers Weekly that Chin's decision was "a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court."

No further information on the Authors Guild appeal is available at this time. CNET contacted Google and the Authors Guild for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

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