Setback for Author's Guild in Case against Google

Jul 02, 2013

Lately, the media has been so focused on the Apple ebook trial that you could be forgiven for having forgotten all about the Author Guild's lawsuit against Google for its attempts to scan every book. But a three judge panel decided this week to revoke class action status, at least temporarily.

According to court documents:

"On the particular facts of this case, we conclude that class certification was premature in the absence of a determination by the District Court of the merits of Google's ‘fair use' defense. Accordingly, we vacate the June 11, 2012 order certifying the class and remand the cause to the District Court, for consideration of the fair use issues, without prejudice to any future motion for class certification."

In layman's terms, this means that the court must decide whether Google's "fair use" defense must be ruled on before a class status can be issued. The Author's Guild case, which got its start in 2005 before fizzling out and being revived in 2011 with the class action, may be in its death throes. According to Publishers Weekly:

"Further hobbling the Authors Guild case, is that the judges seemed to believe that Google has a strong fair use case... The merits of Google's fair use defense was outside the scope of this appeal, however, the judges did indicate, in an aside, that they believed Google's fair use defense had merit."