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Federal court allows appeal of class action status for Google Books lawsuit

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] on Tuesday issued an order granting Google [corporate website] permission to appeal the grant of class action status to numerous authors who are suing the company over its book-scanning initiative [Google Book Search website]. The order grants Google permission [Reuters report] to challenge a decision by a federal judge in May. Judge Denny Chin granted the authors class action status [decision, PDF; JURIST report], reasoning that all class members' injuries stems from Google's "unitary course of conduct" and each members' claim arises out of the same conduct by Google. Google had scanned millions of books without consent of the authors, leading the number of the infringed class to be in the thousands. Chin's decision also rejected Google's petition to dismiss claims by the Authors Guild [advocacy website] and other plaintiffs including the Association of American Publishers (AAP) [association website], McGraw-Hill, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster [corporate websites] that would have forced members to sue Google individually.

In March of last year Chin rejected an amended class action settlement agreement that was reached in 2008 between Google and the plaintiffs, who brought the copyright suit [JURIST reports] in 2005. The settlement agreement stated that Google would pay $125 million to the authors and publishers of copyrighted works in exchange for the permission to display up to 20 percent of the work online. The court reasoned that the settlement agreement would allow Google too much freedom to exploit copyrighted works in the future. Chin's ruling came a month after he had postponed his decision [JURIST report] because he was not ready.

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