Back in 2004, Google started a projection in cooperation with several major research libraries to scan digital copies of existing book collections into an archive online. The project was titled, the Liberty Project, and was operating under the principles of fair use, which allow certain publications to be utilized for research and educational purposes without paying royalties to their authors.
In 2005, the Authors Guild filed a complaint against Google for copyright infringement. They further explained that by making in-copyright works available for online viewing, even in small segments, violated the copyright protection of those works. In 2006, Google offered a settlement agreement.
After the settlement was rejected, Google and the plaintiffs began work on an amended settlement. After various changes, it was still rejected. In 2011, it was found that the revised settlement exceeded what the court could enforce. A final draft was purposed to the court and again, it did not meet court approval.
Finally, last year Google moved to have the case dismissed on the grounds that an association could not file for individual copyright infringement. Furthermore, Google says the lawsuit should not go forward as a majority of authors surveyed (57%), insisted they wanted their works included in Google’s archive and search results.
Judge Denny Chin, who presides over the case, found neither one of Google’s grounds for dismissal to be valid, and therefor, cases involving infringement from the archives project will be allowed to move forward in the future.
So while there has been no settlement in the case, Google is not dismissed from their liability in future copyright infringement cases stemming from the project. I am sure we haven’t heard the last of this story. We’ll keep you updated as new information about Google’s Liberty Project becomes available.