The Authors Guild Takes Google To SCOTUS

The Ginger Law Librarian has been following the Google Books case since 2013 - here, here, here, and here.

It's culminated the point where is has finally landed in front of the highest court in the land. The Washington Post reported that the Authors Guild has officially asked the Supreme Court to hear its case against Google for its Google Books service. The group filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court on December 31, 2015.

If you are not familiar with the suit, here's the gist:
Google's free service allows users to search for particular lines or quotes in books through the company's main search engine, and also displays parts of scanned pages of books. The Authors Guild and Google have fought for 10 years over whether that qualifies as "fair use." The Authors Guild first complained in 2005 that this violates copyright and undermines the value of authors' work by providing their books online and for free.  The group has argued that Google Books, essentially, gives people access to their work without having to pay for it.  It also objected to Google's partnerships with libraries to provide this online material.

Google and the Authors Guild had worked out a settlement, but it was rejected in 2011 by a district court judge who deemed it unfair to authors, dropping the case back into court.

Then in October 2015, New York's 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Google and ruled the firm had acted legally when it scanned works — including those still under copyright — for its Books service

In the writ, the Authors Guild rejects that ruling and argues that it conflicts with other copyright rulings made around the country on how the laws apply in the digital age, and has far-reaching consequences for the future of U.S. copyright law stating:
This case represents an unprecedented judicial expansion of the fair-use doctrine that threatens copyright protection in the digital age. The decision below authorizing mass copying, distribution, and display of unaltered content conflicts with this Court’s decisions and the Copyright Act itself. This case also presents important issues on which the circuits are split, highlighting the need for this Court to act. 

According to InsideHigherEd, it is unlikely that SCOTUS will take up the case. The Authors Guild faces an “uphill battle” to convince the court that any of those questions need to be reconsidered -- especially since Leval, an influential legal scholar who has helped shape the fair use debate, wrote the appeals court’s opinion.


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