Authors sue Google over book digitization project

The Authors Guild is claiming copyright infringement and seeking $750 per book in damages

Just days after the Federal Trade Commission reportedly voted to levy a $22.5 million fine against Google Inc. for privacy violations, the Internet company is back in hot water, this time with authors angry over its digitization of their books.

Google began digitizing books in 2004, after reaching agreements with libraries at institutions such as Harvard University, Oxford University and Stanford University. The company says the project benefits the public, and that its practices count as fair use under U.S. copyright law. But the Authors Guild, led by writer and attorney Scott Turow, argue that the digitization project does not fall under the fair use doctrine, saying in a court filing that "Google’s unauthorized uses are for a commercial purpose; involve verbatim copying, distribution and display of protected expression; are not transformative, and if they become widespread would adversely affect actual and potential markets for copyrighted books.”

The authors won class action status in May, after a federal judge rejected a $125 million settlement in the case in March 2011. They are seeking summary judgment and $750 in damages for each book that Google copied, displayed or distributed. That could add up to a hefty price tag for the search engine giant, which reportedly has scanned more than 20 million books since the project's inception.

Read more on the story from Reuters. And for more InsideCounsel coverage of Google, see:

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Alanna Byrne

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