Summary:

The long-running copyright lawsuit over Google’s book scanning — in which the Authors Guild is seeking $750 per book — is turning into a procedural snarl as both the case and an appeal go forward at the same time. A new order confirms that the parties are due in court in December.

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photo: Google

The seven year saga over Google’s decision to scan millions of library books without permission will plod forward after a federal judge refused to stay the case pending appeal.

In a short order, Judge Denny Chin rejected Google’s request to suspend the case while it goes before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Chin noted that a stay would delay the case “by a year or more” and told Google and the Authors Guild, which is representing writers in a class action, to stick to the current schedule. That schedule calls for them to file arguments ahead of a December court hearing.

The case has taken on new life after Judge Chin’s decision in 2011 to reject an elaborate three-way settlement between Google, publishers and the Guild. The settlement would have resolved the Authors Guild’s original 2005 copyright lawsuit. The Guild is now asking Google to pay $750 for every registered work it scanned without permission.

Recently, the lawsuit has turned into a procedural thicket after the Second Circuit agreed to let Google appeal Chin’s decision earlier this year to certify the class (an important procedural hurdle that lets the Guild sue on behalf of all writers).

Chin’s latest ruling creates an unusual situation in which the books case is now before him and the appeals court at the same time. The situation is even more unusual because Chin himself now sits on the appeals court (although he has of course recused himself from hearing the Google appeal).

As it stands, the appeals court will hold a phone hearing for Google and the parties in October while the parties are slated to appear before Chin in December. Chin also recently granted permission for scholars and librarians to file “friends of the court” briefs in support of Google; many in the academic community believe the scanning will help in research.

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