Suing Google: Don’t Judge an E-book by its Publisher

The W&M chapter of ACS recently co-sponsored an event with the Student Intellectual Property Society with attorney Joanne Zack, a founder of Boni & Zack LLC, who was plaintiff’s counsel in the recently settled Authors Guild v. Google (PDF). The case involved a lawsuit against Google Books for making a searchable database of books which the Authors Guild claimed was massive copyright infringement.

Zack started out the talk with a very succinct overview of copyright law in the U.S., which was sorely needed for many of the copyright greenhorns (like myself) present in the audience. To summarize, Art. I §8 contains the copyright clause which empowers congress to “secur[e] for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries” With this grant of authority, congress has passed Title 17 of the U.S. Code, which deals exclusively with copyright, and more importantly in the Google Books case, fair use doctrine, which is covered in 17 U.S.C. §107. §107 makes clear that uses for “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research” are not an infringement of copyright depending on the outcome of a balancing test using the so-called “fair use factors”:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;


Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm Comments Off on Suing Google: Don’t Judge an E-book by its Publisher