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Google moves to end authors' Google Books copyright lawsuit

Google has called for thousands of authors to end their lawsuit against its Google Books digital library.

The Authors Guild, as well as trade associations representing graphic artists and photographers, has said that the search giant’s plan to build the world’s largest digital book collection is founded on “massive copyright infringement.” Google’s concession to only post excerpts, in an effort to abide by copyright and fair use laws, has not appeased the offended groups.

Google reached a landmark agreement with French book publishers last month that allows it to add out-of-print books by French authors to its library.

The company has said more than four million English-language excerpts, out of some 20 million scanned books, have been posted online as a part of its venture to digitise both current and out-of-print texts. The collection includes books from the libraries of Harvard University, Oxford University, Stanford University, and the New York Public Library, among others.

But in a 27 July filing with a US district court in New York, Google said there has been no evidence that authors have suffered economically due to its inclusion of their works in its searchable index. On the contrary, the company alleged, its Google Books service makes it easier for people to find and buy their works. The digital library also brings to the table a “significant public benefit” by making information available that otherwise would be difficult to find, Google said.

"Google Books creates enormous transformative benefits without reducing the value of the authors' work," the company said. "[It] therefore passes with ease the ultimate test of fair use."

A lawyer for the Authors Guild responded to Google’s filing by asking the court to grant summary judgement in the Guild’s favour.

In March 2011, a federal judge rejected a proposed $125 million (£80 million) settlement in the case, arguing that it would have amounted to a “de facto monopoly” granting Google unchecked power to copy and post books online without permission.

In May, Judge Denny Chin gave the case, which dates back to 2005, class-action status, allowing authors, graphic artists, and photographers to band together against Google Books.

"We're one big step closer to justice being done for US authors," Authors Guild president Scott Turow said at the time.