When it comes to the Great Google Book Scan, writers must fend for themselves now. At least, that’s what federal courts may announce soon.
What’s the big deal? Google has scanned books, journals, articles – copyrighted material – for public viewing. Check out Google Books. You think your bedside to-read pile is overwhelming? You’ve got more free books to read. Just how many? According to Publishers Weekly, Google has scanned 20 million books over the past nine years. Although some are not in their entirety, a substantial portion of the material is out there free, with no permission granted from the copyright owners.
The Authors Guild filed a class action lawsuit against Google in 2005. Google has been pushing the fair use button throughout litigation. Still, no settlement has been reached. Lawyers representing Google have asserted that the Great Google Book Scan has not impacted authors’ sales. Although what measurement method they are using that is indicative of this non-effect has yet to be revealed.
As of a few weeks ago, the Authors Guild no longer has a legal right to represent all writers whose books have been scanned by Google. Unless courts approve a class action status, it may only move forward with the nine writers named in the lawsuit. This means all unnamed writers (if they so desire) will need to file individual lawsuits against Google.