Only a matter of weeks ago, US Circuit Judge Denny Chin ruled that Google’s massive digitization project fell within the reasonable bounds of copyright and fair use, throwing out the copyright lawsuit brought about by Authors Guild. The group promised at the time to appeal Judge Chin’s ruling and is now moving forward with that appeal, having completed the necessary filings in the district court.
In Chin’s November decision, he not only dismissed the Authors Guild’s lawsuit, but praised Google for its efforts to preserve rare books and make privately held library collections available to worldwide readers through search. This praise did not come with any measure of bias, as Chin was the same judge who rejected the 2011 settlement terms between Google and a number of publishers, stating that the settlement would be “rewarding [Google] for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case.”
Another case brought about by the Authors Guild against several of the scanning groups working on Google’s project has already been determined by a different judge to be well within the bounds of fair use. The judge in that case, Harold Baer, not only stated that the scanning of entire books is necessary for indexing purposes in allowing ease of searchability, but also had strong words for the benefits that programs of this kind can have for readers as a whole, especially print disabled readers. Baer went on to state that this was new territory for copyright law, but that the project fell within the scope of fair use.
For its part, the Authors Guild has not explained its position other than to argue that the massive undertaking goes way beyond the limits of fair use. No explanation was provided in the filing, only the notice of intent to appeal.