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Visual artists sue Google over book scanning project

[JURIST] Several visual artist organizations filed a class action suit [complaint, PDF; press release] Wednesday against Google [corporate website] alleging copyright infringement resulting from the company's book scanning project [Google Books website]. The plaintiffs include the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), the Graphic Artists Guild, the Picture Archive Council of America, the North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America [websites], as well as individual photographers and illustrators. The visual artists' class action is being brought in the US District for the Southern District of New York [official website], the same court where an earlier class action was brought against Google by text authors. According to lawyers for the plaintiffs, ASMP and the other visual artists decided to bring a separate suit when they were prevented from joining the earlier action.

Last month, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] urged a federal court to reject [JURIST report] the proposed class action settlement [Authors Guild backgrounder] in the copyright suit [case materials] between text authors and Google due to copyright and antitrust concerns. In February, a federal judge heard arguments [JURIST report] on the proposed settlement but did not indicate when a ruling can be expected. The case originated when two lawsuits were brought against Google by the Authors Guild [advocacy website], a group seeking to preserve copyright protection for authors, and by other plaintiffs including the Association of American Publishers (AAP) [organization website], McGraw-Hill, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster [corporate websites]. Under the terms of the original settlement agreement, which was reached [JURIST report] in October 2008, Google would pay $125 million to authors and publishers of copyrighted works. In return, Google would be allowed to display online up to 20 percent of the total pages of a copyrighted book, and would offer users an opportunity to purchase the remainder of any viewed book.

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