The battle is officially on. On May 31, Judge Denny Chin rejected Google’s motion to dismiss the Authors Guild as an associational plaintiff, and granted the Guild’s motion for class certification, meaning that Google’s library scanning program, barring another settlement, is headed to trial on the merits.

In denying Google’s motion to sever the Authors Guild and to have the case move forward with only the three named plaintiffs, Chin firmly rejected Google’s position. “Indeed, the Authors Guild has played an integral part in every stage of this litigation since its inception almost seven years ago,” Chin observed. “Only when it became apparent, in 2011, that no settlement would be achieved did Google object to the Authors Guild's participation in the litigation.”

On the other hand, in granting the Authors Guild Associational Standing, Chin accepted the Authors Guild argument that Google’s mass digitization efforts were best dealt with by mass litigation. “Class action is the superior method for resolving this litigation," he ruled. “It is, without question, more efficient and effective than requiring thousands of authors to sue individually. Requiring this case to be litigated on an individual basis would risk disparate results in nearly identical suits and exponentially increase the cost of litigation.”

The ruling is a big, unequivocal win for the Authors Guild. After more than six years, the Authors Guild case against Google could now go to trial as early as September. Motions for summary judgment are due to be filed by June 14.

Look for more analysis and reaction in tomorrow’s PW Daily.