A coalition of authors, publishers, and rights organizations were among those filing amicus briefs this week in support of the Authors Guild's bid to have the Supreme Court review its legal challenge to Google’s library book scanning program.
Those filing briefs include:
- Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., The International Federation Of Reproduction Rights Organisations, and Marybeth Peters
- Elsevier Inc. And Hachette Book Group, Inc.
- Authors Malcolm Gladwell, J.M. Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin, Stephen Sondheim, Peter Carey, Thomas Keneally, Tony Kushner, Diane Mcwhorter, Taylor Branch, Tracy Chevalier, Douglas Wright, Michael Frayn, Richard Flanagan, Tracy Kidder, Marsha Norman, and Yann Martel
- The Copyright Alliance
- International Authors Forum (IAF), International Publishers Association (IPA), and the International Association Of Scientific, Technical And Medical Publishers (STM)
- Text And Academic Authors Association, Western Writers Of America, Inc., The National Association Of Science Writers, Inc. And The Dramatists Guild
- American Society of Journalists and Authors
The briefs come after the Authors Guild in October lost its appeal in its long-running battle with Google. On December 31, the guild petitioned the Supreme Court for a review, arguing that the Second Circuit’s unanimous decision in the fair use battle represents "an unprecedented judicial expansion of the fair use doctrine that threatens copyright protection in the digital age.”
Google has until March 1 to file its opposition brief.
In their brief, the authors contend that “the fair-use doctrine was never intended–either by the judges who developed the doctrine at common law or the many Congresses that drafted and finally codified the fair use doctrine—to permit a wealthy for-profit entity to digitize millions of works and to cut off authors’ licensing of their reproduction, distribution, and public display rights.”
In its brief, lawyers for the Copyright Clearance Center argue that, if left to stand, the Google decision “will likely spawn myriad other unauthorized, technology-enabled exploitations of potentially vast amounts of copyrighted material, both here and abroad, on the premise that the uses to which these works are being put are socially valuable and do not directly compete with sales of the originals.”
In a statement, Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, said that the support of the various groups “proves that this matter is critical to the future of fair use under copyright law—if not the future of publishing and authorship itself.” The Supreme Court has not heard a fair use case in over 20 years.
The guild's Supreme Court bid is the last twist in the association’s decade-long legal battle against Google over its program to digitize out-of-print library books. The suit was first filed in September of 2005, but was shelved from late 2008 until 2011 while the parties stumped for a controversial, ultimately rejected settlement.
The Supreme Court is expected to decide this spring if it will hear the case.