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Authors Guild

Appeals court rules HathiTrust book scanning is fair use
June 10, 2014 | 3:43 pm

Ars Technica reports that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on the HathiTrust case, the legal sibling to the Google Books lawsuit. HathiTrust is the organization of university libraries that provided books to Google for scanning purposes in return for receiving copies for themselves. A Federal judge ruled HathiTrust to be fair use in October, 2012, and now the appeals court has upheld that ruling (PDF). The court found that, in scanning the books but not making their full text available (save to handicapped users, who have a special exemption under copyright law), the libraries were...

New author advocacy group Authors Alliance seeks to counterbalance Authors Guild on fair use issues
May 14, 2014 | 11:28 am

Origin 5142014 112418 AM.bmpA group of writers and copyright experts concerned over Authors Guild overreach has formed its own new author advocacy group, the Authors Alliance, to advocate in favor of fair use of works. Publishers Weekly has a fairly long interview with one of its directors, law professor Pamela Samuelson of the UC Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. (Samuelson’s name has popped up a few times on TeleRead as one of the critics of the proposed Google Books settlement and the Authors Guild’s role in it, and an organizer of the Berkeley Digital Library Copyright Project.) The Authors...

In Google Books appeal, Authors Guild decries Google’s impact on Amazon sales
April 12, 2014 | 6:12 am

The Authors Guild is appealing Google’s November fair use win in its Google Book scanning case. The Guild says that Google is “yanking readers out of online bookstores” and stifling online bookstore competition with its digitized books. "Google emptied the shelves of libraries and delivered truckloads of printed books to scanning centers, where the books were converted into digital format," the Guild's lawyers said. They wrote that the library project was designed to lure potential book purchasers away from online retailers like Amazon.com and drive them to Google. Wait, what? ...

Satire: ‘Merger’ between authors James Patterson and Clive Cussler roils the publishing world
February 14, 2014 | 11:38 am

roflI love a good satire piece, don’t you? And this one from Lawrence Block had me absolutely howling. It begins: Publishing circles were reeling today after this morning’s surprise announcement of the merger of pop fiction titans James Patterson and Clive Cussler, who between them are likely to account for twenty bestsellers in calendar year 2014 alone. While neither author could be reached for comment, a source close to both men confirmed that the deal will include all rights—film, electronic, and audio—to the two authors’ innumerable backlist titles as well as all current and future...

‘The commune is passé’: Publishers need to wake up and face the new world
December 13, 2013 | 2:49 pm

Fullscreen capture 12132013 23200 PM.bmp‘Tis the season for holiday specials, and one of the more obscure yet entertaining ones you will find is the Oscar-nominated “A Doonesbury Special” from 1977. Nominated for Best Animated Short, this half-hour TV special features the Doonesbury gang looking back at the just-ended hippie movement and trying to figure out where it all went and make sense of where they are now. I bring it up, because it seems like the big publishers and the Authors Guild are in a similar boat. They’re looking back at the era when they dominated publishing—they were the great gatekeepers, and the...

Judge Chin dismisses suit over Google Books mass scanning as fair use, setting stage for appeal
November 14, 2013 | 8:26 pm

Juli already mentioned the big news of the day: Google has prevailed in the Authors Guild’s copyright case against it for scanning millions of books for its Google Books project. Judge Chin determined that Google Books constituted a fair use, granted Google’s motion for a summary judgment, and dismissed the case. But let’s look at the background a little. This ruling comes a few months after an appeals court ruled back at the beginning of July that Judge Chin needed to hold up on deciding whether the Authors Guild could claim class action status and look at the fair...

Google makes case for Google Books scanning as ‘transformative’ fair use
August 28, 2013 | 10:15 am

Is Google’s book scanning practice “transformative”? Google argues that it is, the Authors Guild argues that it isn’t, This could be an important part of determining whether Google scanning all those books in violation of copyright could be considered a “fair use.” It follows on the heels of the appeals court decision back in July requiring that the circuit court rule on whether Google Book Search constituted fair use before deciding if the suit warranted class action status. Google argues that its book search program was such an improvement over existing search functionality for books that its use was...

The Internet Archive’s Open Library is violating authors’ copyrights
July 10, 2013 | 8:53 pm

Open Library is a project of Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive. We’ve written about Kahle, the Archive, and Open Library a few times, including some times I’d forgotten about. Kahle’s Internet Archive was first founded as a way to keep a historical record of the ever-changing Internet for the benefit of future sociological and cultural researchers; it later expanded into archiving other media as well. More recently, Kahle started collecting print books, and scanning them as well as archiving them; it was his intention to collect and save one of every print book ever published. These scanned books would also...

Google Books appeals court ruling denies Authors Guild class action status, demands ruling on fair use
July 1, 2013 | 8:52 pm

Hey, remember the big e-book trial? No, not that one, the other one. The latest news to come out of the courts about the big Authors Guild vs Google case is that the Second Court of Appeals has sided with Google in putting a hold on Judge Chin’s decision that the Authors Guild could have class-action status to represent all authors who had been wronged by Google. Perhaps the more interesting part of the decision, however, was why they did it. The Second Court said that they felt the question of class action status was premature at...

Scott Turow and the Publishing Marketplace
April 8, 2013 | 4:00 pm

Scott TurowI've seen at least four stories today on the Scott Turow editorial in this week's New York Times (for example, here and here). Turow's editorial was a mishmash of all sorts of trending stories, offering his comments on used books, libraries, the Kirtsaeng decision, Amazon, and who knows what else. He has been derided, and rightly so in my opinion, for taking a somewhat extreme and out of touch view of the current marketplace. But what I think often gets lost in this knee-jerk reactionary stuff (both on the part of the originator and the various respondents) is that these pieces often do...

Scott Turow describes “The Slow Death of the American Author”
April 8, 2013 | 2:00 pm

Libraries. The Internet. Pirate sites. According to author Scott Turow's recent op-ed piece for the New York Times, these things are all to blame for the "Slow Death of the American Author." Best-selling novelist and Author's Guild president Scott Turow discusses how all of these entities are creating an environment where authors will make less money, and entities such as Amazon will get to pocket it all. “But it is the latest example of how the global electronic marketplace is rapidly depleting authors’ income streams. It seems almost every player—publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars—is vying for position at authors’...

Google appeals class action certification in Google Books case
November 12, 2012 | 10:49 pm

The Google Books lawsuit proceeds apace. paidContent and CNet report that, in Google’s latest filing, the search giant is appealing the court’s decision to certify class action status for the Authors Guild. Google argues that the majority of writers actually approve of its scanning (58% according to a Google-commissioned survey), and that its scanning to provide search capability is a transformative fair use. Google suggests that even if the court rules it is not fair use in general, it will still have to decide on a case by case basis whether each individual book is or not. Is Google...