google-books-logoArs Technica has a look at the current filings and legal strategies in the Google Books case. There are three current cases against Google—two 2005 cases involving publishers and authors, which are the ones involved in the settlement that failed after four years of work, and one in 2010 from photographers and illustrators. Google appears close to a separate settlement in the publishers’ case.

But Google is likely to carry on its battle with the authors, photographers, and other individual copyright holders. Some authors consider the fight a matter of principle. And even if Google convinced the individual named authors to settle their lawsuit, that wouldn’t prevent other authors from filing lawsuits in the future. So Google may have little choice but to seek a ruling from the courts that its scanning project is legal under copyright’s fair use doctrine.

One of the important questions is whether the authors’ lawyers can get class-action certification so they can claim to represent the interests of all authors. New York Law School copyright scholar James Grimmelmann notes this is an important question, because if they can’t get class-action status some of the plaintiffs’ lawyers will probably decide it’s not worth their while to continue representing so few clients. This is why Google is asking for the Author’s Guild to be dismissed from the suit—it will make it easier to argue against class-action certification.

If the case proceeds at its current pace, Ars Technica suggests, we can expect a decision on the question of fair use in late 2012 or 2013.


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