The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected on Monday an appeal made by a group of authors who accused Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) of violating their copyrights by offering users a preview of their books through a company’s project called Google Books, which started in 2004.
The Authors Guild, an organization representing the authors, argued in 2005 that this project illegally deprives authors from revenues, but like this time the case was also rejected last year by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in favor of Google, as reported by Reuters.
Monday’s ruling leaves intact last year’s decision, granting the California-based company permit to continue digitizing books and making possible its online library. Google argued that this previews, which just show parts of the book, actually can boost author’s book sales by offering users a chance to read some content that otherwise they would not read.
According to the judges, the case “tested the boundaries of fair use”, but the unanimous three-judge appeals court panel determined that Google’s actions were ultimately allowed under the law. Until now the company has made digital copies of more than 20 million books.
Among the authors, part of the class actions against the Alphabet Inc. unit are former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, with his memoir “Ball Four”, Margaret Atwood, novelist and poet, and Stephen Sondheim who as well backed the authors.
“A colossal loss”
The organization aimed to protect writer’s copyrights, free speech, and tax fairness expressed its disappointment over the Supreme Court’s rejection to appeal. The petition faced an “uphill battle” to gain the four votes necessary for a grant of review, according to an organization statement.
“Today authors suffered a colossal loss,” said Authors Guild president Roxana Robinson in the statement. “We filed the class action lawsuit against Google in September 2005 because, as we stated then, ‘Google’s taking was a plain and brazen violation of copyright law,’” she stated.
We believed then and we believe now that authors should be compensated when their work is copied for commercial purposes, added Robinson. Google commented that if the organization had prevailed, this would have meant billions of dollars in potential damages.
Source: The Authors Guild