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Google Books heading for trial, faster

The Google Books lawsuit looks more likely to go to trial. On 29 November Judge Denny Chin acknowleged receipt from Google of a "motion to dismiss" the case - which, perhaps paradoxically, is the first stage toward a trial. The odds of Judge Chin granting the motion and dismissing the case are infinitesimal. Even if the Authors Guild were dismissed as a plaintiff, individual authors would pursue the case and continue to seek "class action" status so that compensation could be available to other authors affected.

The Authors Guild says Google's making books available online should lead to compensation to authors. Google maintains that this is an example of "fair use" - the ill-defined US legal doctrine over when a copyright work, such as a book, can be used without the owner's permisison.

Google was nevertheless prepared to fund the proposed settlement to the tune of US$125 million, offering up to US$60 to a sole author of a book registered with the US Register of Copyrights. In March Judge Chin ruled out that settlement proposal, not least on the grounds that it would have covered all authors who did not actively opt out, and would have create a monopoly in trade in "orphan" books - those whose authors cannot be contacted.

The possibility of the three sides - Google, authors (including illustrators) and publishers - thrashing out a settlement cannot be dismissed, but this is a strong sign that one side isn't trying so hard.

In Forbes magazine Scott Cleland believes that:

A loss in this case could involve: hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in damages; brand and reputation damage; and significant changes in how Google indexes and monetizes a wide range of copyrighted material...

See the links below for background. More later...

Last modified: 11 Dec 2011 - © 2011 contributors
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