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Google Books case

The Google Books copyright case centers on several copyright infringement cases filed by the American Association of Publishers (AAP), the Authors Guild, and others against Google for digitizing, indexing, and providing search access to the public of millions of library books.  

Since the lawsuit was initially filed in 2005, numerous actions have occurred.  The AAP, the Authors Guild, and Google proposed an initial settlement in 2008, but after privacy, antitrust, and other concerns were expressed by numerous parties, including the US Dept. of Justice, the settlement proposal was rejected by the court (Judge Chin).  In 2012, after continuing negotiations to reach a revised settlement fell through, the AAP settled separately with Google, in an undisclosed settlement that reportedly appears to be largely a concession by the publishers.  The Authors Guild has continued its litigation, and in 2012 won certification as representative of a very broad class of authors.  In 2013 the Second Circuit reversed the class certification, and sent the case back to the District Court on the issue of fair use.  On November 14, 2013, the District Court (Judge Denny Chin) held that the Google Books index was a "highly transformative" fair use, and granted summary judgment for Google on the question.  (See opinion (PDF).)The Authors Guild immediately announced that they would appeal.

 

Learn more: 

 


The court finally issued its order dismissing the case in the AIME v. UCLA case.  (The second amended complaint, in case you're counting.)  In short, it was another big victory for libraries.  The court affirmed all its earlier reasoning, and deepened its reasoning in a few key areas.  
Here's a quick summary -- more discussion will be out on all the usual places in the near future, I'm sure.
Sovereign & Qualified Immunity Defenses
 - All claims against Regents and claims seeking damages against individual defendants in their official capacity were dismissed because of sovereign immunity.
 - The officials were also protected by sovereign immunity for their supervisory activities.   
 - The officials also had qualified immunity because the actions taken were not clearly copyright infringement; where there is at least some reasonable ambiguity around fair use, one could reasonably believe the action is fair use, and not copyright infringement.  "The Court finds that a reasonable person would not have known that the alleged conduct violated any clearly established rights pursuant to copyright law because it is ambiguous whether the use was fair use under copyright law."   More on that below.
Associational Standing
 - The earlier holding that AIME does not have associational standing still applies.  
interpreting the License
 - The earlier holdings on interpreting the license language still apply -- the court had said the activity looked like a "performance" not a "distribution".  However, the court also examined the "distribution" claim, and made a couple of key holdings:  (1) The streamed copy on the end-user's machine is not "fixed" and does not therefore constitute a "distribution".  (2) The licensing agreement language prohibiting broadcast or transmission over an "open or Internet system" did not clearly preclude the closed intranet system.  Conflict between the marketing brochure and the licensing language created ambiguity which could be exploited by the library.
DMCA Anti-Circumvention
 - Very nice interpretation of the DMCA anti-circumvention:  Because UCLA had lawful access to the content of the DVD, their circumvention was okay.   Oddly, the Court didn't look to the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions.
Fair Use
 - Intermediate copying (to put the files on the streaming server) was "incidental fair use".  
 - The streaming activities themselves were also analyzed for fair use, in the context of the officials' qualified immunity.  Thus, the Court did not fully assess whether the streaming itself were definitively fair use; only whether they were plausibly fair use.  The Court found only that there was at least a strong argument about fair use, and so the officials were not liable for copyright infringement.  It is clear, however, that this Court felt the activities were fair use.  
The court found that the purpose and nature favored fair use -- no discussion at all.  
The second factor -- the type of work -- was neutral because, although these were creative works, they were used in an "informational and educational context".  
The third factor was "slightly" against a finding of fair use because the entire work was streamed:  The "time shifting" argument was "compelling" and tipped this toward only weighing "slightly" against fair use.  
The fourth factor weighed in FAVOR of fair use because someone watching the streaming DVD in a classroom has no effect on their likelihood of buying.  
Overall, this is a very helpful analysis from the perspective of libraries.
Non-Copyright Claims
 - The various state common law claims were preempted by federal copyright claims.
The full opinion can be read at http://www.scribd.com/doc/114021241/UCLA-dismissedWithPrej-pdf

 November 14, 2013

The Google Book Search is a "highly transformative" fair use, according to an opinion issued today by the District Court in the long-running Authors Guild v. Google case.   Judge Denny Chin granted summary judgment to Google on the the issue of fair use, citing amicus briefs from library associations and digital humanities scholars multiple times.  The Authors Guild has already announced its appeal.  The Second Circuit panel that will be hearing the appeal indicated in an earlier appeal that they thought this was a likely fair use. 

Highlights included: 

Two points that I think will be quite helpful going forward on issues include (1) the explicit consideration in the fourth factor (the "effect on the market" factor) of the benefits to authors of discoverability; and (2) the court's assessment of Google's "commerciality" in the first factor -- although Google is a commercial actor, "[i]t does not engage in the direct commercialization of copyrighted works."  That's a very useful gloss on "commerciality" versus "nonprofit", which helps limit commerciality to commercial use of the works -- as opposed to the profit or non-profit status of the defendant.  

The Authors Guild has already announced they are appealing.  The appeal will be held in the Second Circuit, and we already know the panel -- which heard the earlier class certification appeal and indicated at that time they thought this was a likely fair use. 

Read the actual opinion -- it's not too long, it's a nice overview of the 8-year Google Books litigation, and it's a classic fair use analysis with nothing too weird or difficult.

More reading:

 

 

 


The court finally issued its order dismissing the case in the AIME v. UCLA case.  (The second amended complaint, in case you're counting.)  In short, it was another big victory for libraries.  The court affirmed all its earlier reasoning, and deepened its reasoning in a few key areas.  
Here's a quick summary -- more discussion will be out on all the usual places in the near future, I'm sure.
Sovereign & Qualified Immunity Defenses
 - All claims against Regents and claims seeking damages against individual defendants in their official capacity were dismissed because of sovereign immunity.
 - The officials were also protected by sovereign immunity for their supervisory activities.   
 - The officials also had qualified immunity because the actions taken were not clearly copyright infringement; where there is at least some reasonable ambiguity around fair use, one could reasonably believe the action is fair use, and not copyright infringement.  "The Court finds that a reasonable person would not have known that the alleged conduct violated any clearly established rights pursuant to copyright law because it is ambiguous whether the use was fair use under copyright law."   More on that below.
Associational Standing
 - The earlier holding that AIME does not have associational standing still applies.  
interpreting the License
 - The earlier holdings on interpreting the license language still apply -- the court had said the activity looked like a "performance" not a "distribution".  However, the court also examined the "distribution" claim, and made a couple of key holdings:  (1) The streamed copy on the end-user's machine is not "fixed" and does not therefore constitute a "distribution".  (2) The licensing agreement language prohibiting broadcast or transmission over an "open or Internet system" did not clearly preclude the closed intranet system.  Conflict between the marketing brochure and the licensing language created ambiguity which could be exploited by the library.
DMCA Anti-Circumvention
 - Very nice interpretation of the DMCA anti-circumvention:  Because UCLA had lawful access to the content of the DVD, their circumvention was okay.   Oddly, the Court didn't look to the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions.
Fair Use
 - Intermediate copying (to put the files on the streaming server) was "incidental fair use".  
 - The streaming activities themselves were also analyzed for fair use, in the context of the officials' qualified immunity.  Thus, the Court did not fully assess whether the streaming itself were definitively fair use; only whether they were plausibly fair use.  The Court found only that there was at least a strong argument about fair use, and so the officials were not liable for copyright infringement.  It is clear, however, that this Court felt the activities were fair use.  
The court found that the purpose and nature favored fair use -- no discussion at all.  
The second factor -- the type of work -- was neutral because, although these were creative works, they were used in an "informational and educational context".  
The third factor was "slightly" against a finding of fair use because the entire work was streamed:  The "time shifting" argument was "compelling" and tipped this toward only weighing "slightly" against fair use.  
The fourth factor weighed in FAVOR of fair use because someone watching the streaming DVD in a classroom has no effect on their likelihood of buying.  
Overall, this is a very helpful analysis from the perspective of libraries.
Non-Copyright Claims
 - The various state common law claims were preempted by federal copyright claims.
The full opinion can be read at http://www.scribd.com/doc/114021241/UCLA-dismissedWithPrej-pdf

 October 4, 2012

NEWS 

You may have heard about the Google BookSearch settlement.  (e.g., the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/technology/google-and-publishers-settle-over-digital-books.html  ).   Don't get too excited, because it was the least exciting part of the case that settled -- and the rest of the case continues.

– Laura Quilter

 

 

 

Last Edited: 14 November 2013