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Google asks court to ax book-scanning suit from Authors Guild

In its latest brief, the search giant argues that the matter should be decided on a per-book basis rather than as a whole.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Google is trying to convince the courts to throw out a book-scanning lawsuit filed against it by the Authors Guild.

In a brief submitted to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals last Friday, Google argued that a suit filed on behalf of all authors whose books have been scanned shouldn't be allowed because most authors support the scanning.

Backing up its claim, the company yet again cited a survey that found 58 percent of the authors polled approved of Google scanning their books so the content could be searched online. A full 45 percent said they had already seen or expect to see higher demand for their books as a result of the scanning. And 19 percent said they've benefited financially from the scanning.

Instead of a lawsuit that lumps all authors together, the seach giant has argued that the case should be decided on a per-book basis, according to PaidContent.

Google has been embroiled in a lawsuit with the Authors Guild since 2005 over allegations that the company's book scanning constitutes copyright infringement. In 2008, the two sides reached an agreement whereby Google would have paid authors and publishers $125 million in return for scanning and selling their copyrighted works.

But that settlement was thrown out last year by New York federal district court Judge Denny Chin, who ruled that it would have given Google an unfair advantage over its competitors. In May of this year, Judge Chin gave the Authors Guild the legal go-ahead to proceed with its class-action suit. In August, however, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals found that Google could appeal Chin's ruling.

Last month, Google settled a similar long-running suit with the Association of American Publishers. But the case filed by the Authors Guild drags on.

In its latest brief, Google continues to rely on its main argument -- that its scanning of books constitutes "fair use" since the scanned portions don't compete directly with the actual books.

The Authors Guild maintains that the scanning violates copyright and is looking for a payment of $750 per "infringed" book.

A spokesperson for Google issued the following statement to CNET: "We do not believe this case warrants class action status. Google Books is fully compliant with copyright law and is a transformative product that helps users access the great pool of knowledge contained within millions of books."

CNET contacted the Authors Guild for comment and will update the story if we receive any information.

(Via PaidContent)

Updated 11:00 a.m. PT with response from Google.