"The claims of the associations should be dismissed without leave to amend because they lack standing as a matter of law, since they do not themselves own copyrights and do not meet the test for associational standing set forth in Hunt." p. 19With that conclusion, Google has filed a motion asserting that the copyright infringement lawsuits filed by the Authors' Guild and the American Society of Media Photographers, Inc. be dismissed. The arguments made in the document are:
- "Individual copyright owners' participation is necessary to establish a claim for copyright infringement." (p.1)
- "Plaintiff associations do not own copyrights alleged to have been infringed, and do not have standing to sue for copyright infringement." (p.4)
- "Every copyright, and every alleged copyright infringement, is different."(p.7)
- "... a central issue in these cases is whether the conduct alleged in the Complaints constitute fair use under 17 U.S.C. 107. Litigating that issue will require the participation of individual association members, because many of the relevant facts are specific to the particular work in question." (p.11)
Second, Google says in this document that fair use has to be determined on a case-by-case basis. They even quote from Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. that "Fair use must 'be judged case by case, in light of the ends of the copyright law....' It is 'not to be simplified with bright-line rules." (p.11) This seems to undermine Google's original defense that copying for the purposes of creating an index is itself fair use, not something that has to be determined on a case by case basis.
It isn't surprising the Google wants to bring an end to this case. It is now entering its seventh year (the original suit was filed in September of 2005), and has undoubtedly been costly for all parties. Google was moving ahead in putting into place the foundations for the settlement, including the creation of a large database of works and a means for owners to claim the copyrights. They had designated a director for the Book Rights Registry, which would administer the business agreed on in the settlement. The failure of the settlement and the amended settlement to get court approval meant that all of that effort was for naught. Yet it isn't clear to me (and I hope someone can speak to this) what practical outcome Google is seeking for its book digitization effort. A dismissal of this nature would put Google in the rather cynical position of continuing book scanning knowing that few individual authors will have the means to take Google to court, and those individual payments would probably be affordable for this multi-billion dollar company. If dismissal is rejected, then at least that aspect of the suit is clarified, but next steps surely will be that the suit goes forward as first entered.
The one thing that is clear is that negotiations between Google and the AG are no longer on the horizon.
Note, also, that the Authors Guild has filed suit against the HathiTrust for copyright infringement, and the decision here will no doubt reflect on that case as well.