Setback for Google Books claimants
BOOK AUTHORS pursuing Google over its unauthorised scanning of 17 million or more books suffered a setback on 1 July. The United States Court Of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York overturned an earlier ruling by Judge Denny Chin that the case qualified as a "class action". The Appeals Court said that Chin must consider Google's defence that its copying was "fair use" - that is, that it met the vague criteria for "exceptions" to copyright under US law - before re-considering whether compensation could be sought on behalf of the entire "class" of authors.
This means that the "fair use" case must be argued only on the facts concerning books by the named authors who stood as representatives of the "class".
University of Maryland law professor James Grimmelmann concludes that this suggests that "the judges on this appeal were convinced that Google has a winning fair use defense across the board." For us in the UK, this reinforces the argument that Google's promotion of the "fair use" concept to Her Majesty's government is merely seeking to promote its ability to do what it damn well pleases, because it can afford more expensive lawyers than anyone else.