The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday denied certiorari [order list, PDF] from an appeal [cert petition, PDF] by three book authors and their advocacy group, the Authors Guild [official website], claiming Google [corporate website] was violating copyright law by scanning millions of books and placing them within an online search engine. With this denial, the decision [text, PDF] of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] allowing the practice will remain in place. The Second Circuit found for Google in October, concluding that Google’s book scanning initiative constituted fair use.
The petition was filed in December claiming [JURIST report] that Google, in cooperation with various university libraries, took all books off shelves and scanned them rather than buying or licensing them, reproducing them without permission. Subject to a four-part fair use test, this doctrine continues to be a contentious issue in the digital age. In September the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that copyright owners must consider “fair use” before demanding the removal of online materials. That case arose after Stephanie Lenz was ordered to remove [JURIST report] a YouTube video of her infant son dancing to Prince’s hit “Lets Go Crazy.” The European Court of Justice ruled [JURIST report] in September that EU member states may authorize public libraries to digitize works contained in their collections without the consent of the rights holders. In September 2012, the Second Circuit suspended litigation [JURIST report] between the Authors Guild and Google pending an appeal of a May ruling allowing a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] over Google’s book-scanning initiative. Both sides had tried to resolve the dispute without litigation, but their settlement agreement had been rejected [JURIST report] by then-Circuit Judge Denny Chin in March 2011.