Last week, the Authors Guild and Google went back to court to argue in favor of (Authors Guild) and against (Google) a ruling that gives writers the right to class action status. Last May, Judge Denny Chin granted the Authors Guild a class certification, thereby enabling them to file a class action suit against Google. To further complicate things, last October “[Judge Harold] Baer ruled that the [Google] scan program was a clear fair use under the copyright law.”
To back up, Google has been surfacing snippets of books in search results, arguing that it is fair use of the work since the results don’t show the full book. Authors Guild President Scott Turow laid out the rebuttal in a recent New York Times‘ op-ed, writing:
Google says this is a “fair use” of the works, an exception to copyright, because it shows only snippets of the books in response to each search. Of course, over the course of thousands of searches, Google is using the whole book and selling ads each time, while sharing none of the revenue with the author or publisher.
Litigation has been ongoing.
If Judge Chin’s order is reversed, Publishers Weekly muses, “[it] would be a serious blow to the AG’s case, and would certainly serve as a catalyst to settle.”
To go back to Scott Turow’s point, my question is: shouldn’t writers be getting a cut of Google’s ad revenue related to the searches that surface their book results? Whether the Guild wins or loses this battle, we need to know the answer.