Nicola Solomon, chief executive of The Society of Authors, has spoken out in support of the Authors Guild, voicing her “disappointment” following the recent decision of the NY federal appeals court backing Google.
The Authors Guild first sued Google in 2005 for infringing authors’ copyright as part of Google’s digital books project, Google Books. Without compensation to authors, 20 million books have since been scanned, snippets of which have been reproduced for Google Books’ comprehensive online library of titles, appearing in users’ search engine results. Last week's decision found that Google's practices are "non-infringing fair uses",
Mary Rasenberger, the Authors Guild’s executive director in New York, commented how “disheartened” she was that the court had been “unable to comprehend the grave impact" of its decision on copyright incentives and literary heritage.
Meanwhile Solomon told The Bookseller: “We are disappointed by this decision and support the comments of the Authors Guild. However this decision is very much based on an analysis of the Fair Use provisions of US copyright law. Our own fair dealing provisions are much narrower and it is our view that Google would not be entitled to use snippets in this way under English copyright law.”
However Paul Jordan, a partner in intellectual property at Bristows LLP in London, commenting on the case, said: "Judge Chin’s decision is a huge boost for Google – and its users. The application of the 'fair use' defence is pragmatic and serves as a further example of the law responding to rapid technological advances. In this case, the NY court has decided that Google’s reproduction of the works is entirely fair and does not infringe authors’ rights.
"Students, academics and researchers, in particular, will likely breathe a sigh of relief," he said, adding, "I feel in all likelihood an English judge would apply the “fair use” defence in a similar manner."