Google Books judge lets librarians, EFF weigh in on Authors Guild case

The judge presiding over the long-running book-scanning case between the Authors Guild and Google has issued an order letting scholars, librarians and a prominent digital rights group file briefs in support of Google.

In an order this week, Judge Denny Chin granted permission for two groups to intervene in the case: one is the Digital Humanities Scholars and Law Professors; the other is a group representing the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Association of Research Libraries.

The Authors Guild had opposed giving the groups permission to file amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs. Such documents typically provide extra legal ammunition to one side or the other.

The academic community and the EFF are weighing in because they want to use the Google case as a means of expanding “fair use,” a legal doctrine that provides an exception to copyright in the case of research, reporting and certain other activities.

Chin’s order (below) also set out a timetable that allows the Authors Guild to reply to the new filings by September 17. It also instructs Google and the Authors Guild by the same date to file final papers in support of summary judgment — a procedure that could let Chin decide the case without a trial. The judge said the parties are to make their arguments in court on October 9.

Chin’s schedule is something of a surprise given that the US 2nd Circuit announced this week that it would hear an appeal of the same case. I had written earlier that Chin was unlikely to move the case forward given that whatever decision the appeals court makes must inform his own rulings.

UPDATE: James Grimmelmann has just reported that filings and oral arguments have been moved to December.

The Authors Guild is asking Google to pay $750 for book with a registered copyright that it scanned without permission. Google has scanned more than 20 million worldwide but the amount covered by the Authors Guild suit are only a fraction of that.

The new order was first reported by Publishers Weekly. The document is below:

Google Books Amici Grant