Authors Guild Case May Reach Supreme Court

indexThe Authors Guild’s long-running dispute with Google could be reaching a final conclusion in the coming weeks. All of it depends on whether or not Supreme Court decides to take up the case.

At issue is Google’s scanning of books still under copyright to be included in its digital book library. Since 2005, the dispute has been an intense bone of contention. In October, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Google’s favor in a unanimous decision, stating that because the snippets of the books in its library available at any one time is so small, it fell under fair use.

The matter has not yet been completely decided. The Author’s Guild has opted for one last option: to petition the high court. Google now has until March 1, 2016 to submit a response, even though the company insists it is in compliance with the law.

While fair use laws do permit the unauthorized copying in certain, limited circumstances, and the issue is one of high stakes for copyright holders because with it is determined what the boundaries of “fair use,” actually are.

In an Op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, novelist Roxana Robins said of the issue:

It was to protect authors against exactly these risks that the Founders wrote copyright law into the Constitution—because a democracy needs authors who can support themselves in a free economy, without patronage or reliance on payment from special interests. If Google is allowed to take huge swaths of copyright material for its own commercial purposes, it will establish a precedent and open the gates to future property grabs…

The lower courts—applying old concepts to new facts—have created a tide that shifts compensation from the increasingly struggling creative sector to the affluent tech sector.

This latest attempt to stop Google’s scanning of copyrighted material is the last chance that the Author’s Guild has. If the Supreme Court opts not to hear the case, there are no more options left for them.

Google has scanned more than some 20 million books since 2004 when it struck an agreement with several big research libraries to digitally copy their collections. The objection comes that Google is not just offering a digital library for users but makes a profit off of it through sponsored ads that accompany search results.

In its petition to the high court were several friend-of-the-court briefs filed that supported the group’s position on why the fair use in this case needs to be re-examined.

“The unprecedented scale of the Google Library Book Project, by itself, warrants a reconsideration of fair use in this case,” states their brief.

There are all kinds of questions that arise regarding what constitutes fair use and what is protected under copyright law. At Greenberg & Lieberman, LLC, our practice focuses on issues regarding copyright, patents, trademark and all aspects of IP law.

Protect your IP and prevent others from using your ideas for their own personal gain. If you suspect that you have been affected IP infringement, contact an intellectual property attorney today to protect your interests. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help you protect your intellectual property.

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