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Second Circuit Skeptical of Fair Use Argument in Google Books Case

The Second Circuit appeared skeptical during oral argument Tuesday over the Authors Guild's claim that it's not fair use for Google to scan millions of out-of-print books and post them online, Gigaom's Jeff John Roberts reports. The guild argued the scanning project is not fair use because it is commercial in nature, Roberts reports, which was a shift in strategy after "Judge Denny Chin awarded a decisive victory to Google in November of last year by throwing out the Authors Guild’s class action suit, after concluding Google Books was 'highly transformative.'"

What Matters--And Doesn't--About Google's Fair Use Win

Forbes contributor Eric Goldman writes that Judge Denny Chin's decision last week that Google's book-scanning project is a fair use under copyright law is a big deal in some ways and a not so big deal in other ways.

Among the ways that the ruling is a big deal:

1. It strengthens Google's position as the go-to search engine.

2. It adds to the canon of search engine law (of which there is not a lot).

Among the ways that the ruling isn't a big deal:

Fair-use rulings are specific to each case so "it would be a mistake to overassume the opinion’s broader implications for fair use on the Internet," Goldman opines.


Judge Rules Google's Book Scanning Project Is Fair Use

Google's book-scanning project has been ruled to be a fair use that doesn't violate copyright law, GigaOM reports.  Judge Denny Chin, who now sits on the Second Circuit, ruled that the digitization of the books did not violate the authors' copyrights because the scanning project is "'highly transformative' and because it didn’t harm the market for the original work," GigaOM also reports.

Google Gmail Wiretapping Class Action Moves Ahead

A California federal judge found Google "may have breached federal and California wiretapping laws for machine-scanning Gmail messages as part of its business model to create user profiles and provide targeted advertising," Wired reports. This putative class action is still at the early stage; the judge denied most of Google's motion to dismiss with leave for the plaintiffs to file an amended claim on the two claims she did dismiss.

Plaintiffs allege that Google violated both federal and California's wiretapping laws by acquiring the content of Gmail user's e-mails in order to send advertisements relevant to the senders or receipients of those messages, according to the opinion.

The judge did grant the motion to dismiss on the plaintiffs' Pennsylvania law claim regarding those who received emails from Gmail users because "Pennsylvania law protects only the sender of communication from wiretapping, not the recipient of that communication," according to the opinion.

The full opinion:

Does Fair Use Protect Google's Digital Library Project?

The long-running putative class action between Google and the Authors Guild and other content producers over Google's project in which it has digitized over 20 million books was back in federal court yesterday.

Reuters reports that Judge Denny Chin appeared to favor the fair use argument by Google, which is seeking to immunize the claims of copyright infringement brought by the plaintiffs. Chin said that Google's project has helped people get information, including law clerks in his chambers, Reuters reported of the oral argument.

The Second Circuit ruled that Chin prematurely approved class certification for the authors without deciding if the fair use defense applies. While Chin is a circuit judge himself now, he retained jurisdiction, Reuters reported.


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