Google and the plaintiffs suing it for alleged book-related copyright infringement are seemingly moving away from seeking a friendly solution, after a so-far fruitless three year effort to settle the case.
Google has notified the court that it intends to file a motion to dismiss parts of the lawsuit filed against it by authors and publishers in 2005, in which they allege copyright infringement stemming from Google's wholesale scanning of millions of library books without the permission of copyright owners. It also told the court that it will request as well the dismissal of a related case brought by photographers and illustrators objecting to the copying of their work as part of the library book scanning project.
Google stated its plan to seek the dismissals in a letter sent to Judge Denny Chin two weeks ago, and which the judge acknowledged receiving last week in a scheduling order he entered into the book scanning case's docket.
In Chin's order, he states that Google requested a pre-motion conference prior to filing the requests for dismissal, but the judge responded that no such conference is necessary.
Instead, he set a deadline of December 23 for Google to file the dismissal motions. The plaintiffs will have until January 23 to respond to the motions, and Google will have to reply to the dismissal oppositions by February 3.
When asked for comment, a Google representative said that the company told the court that it will seek dismissal of the claims "of some plaintiffs" and that it will "file a brief on that issue later this month".
The representative declined to be more specific, but the statement could mean that Google will request dismissal of the claims from the authors and from the photographers, but not from the publishers, with which Google is thought to have made more progress in settlement talks.
Although the claims are all closely related and usually addressed as a single action by those involved, there are technically three separate lawsuits in play, with the lead plaintiffs in each being the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and the American Society of Media Photographers.
Google and the plaintiffs have been trying to settle the book scanning case since 2008, when they hammered out a highly complex and controversial settlement agreement.
That agreement, which later went through a major revision, was nonetheless sharply criticised by many influential parties, including legal scholars, famous authors and publishers and the US Department of Justice with the perception that it gave Google too much power over the scanned works and possibly violated copyright and antitrust laws.
In March, after reviewing it for more than a year, Judge Chin rejected the settlement proposal, saying in his decision that the agreement wasn't fair, adequate or reasonable. "While the digitisation of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the [proposed settlement] would simply go too far," he wrote then.
The settlement would have granted Google "significant rights to exploit entire books, without permission from copyright owners. Indeed, the [settlement] would grant Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case," he added.