Library Copyright Alliance files brief supporting Google, argues reversal on class certification

On Friday, November 16, the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) (whose members are the American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries and Association of College and Research Libraries) filed an amicus brief in Authors Guild, Inc., v. Google, Inc. in support the defendant and arguing that a recent decision on class certification should be reversed.

The appeal is the latest development in long-running litigation over Google’s project to scan and index millions of books from research library collections. After Judge Denny Chin rejected a proposed settlement between authors, publishers, and Google in 2011, the Authors Guild resumed its litigation.  In May 2012, Judge Chin ruled that the litigation could proceed as a class action, with a handful of authors representing the class of all authors whose copyrights may have been infringed by Google. In August, Google was permitted to appeal the court’s decision to certify class action status, and on November 9 they filed their appellate brief.

The LCA amicus brief supports Google’s appeal and asserts that the May class certification decision should be reversed. It argues three points: class certification in this case threatens to undermine the public interest; this case presents no common issue of law or fact; and using subclasses to determine fair use is an unworkble solution to the problems inherent in litigating this dispute as a class action.

The LCA amicus brief concludes: “Google Book Search is a valuable resource for researchers, scholars, libraries, and authors, and it makes vast amounts of information and learning far more accessible to the public than ever before possible. The public has a strong interest in having continued access to GBS — an interest that class certification endangers. Class certification is not appropriate as a legal, practical, or policy matter, and the decision of the District Court should be reversed.”

As an aid for better understanding the relevant cases and decisions starting in 2004, LCA recently released the Google Books Litigation Family Tree.