Friday, July 19, 2013

Recent court decisions of interest to libraryland

Updates on some recent court decisions:

The Google Books lawsuit:  Years ago, Google started the “Google Books” project, an effort to scan 130 million books from libraries worldwide by 2020 (you can read more about it and its relevance to libraries here).  There was no controversy about Google scanning pre-1923 books no longer under copyright, but some objected to Google scanning out-of-print books that were still protected by copyright law.  Just recently, “a panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said Circuit Judge Denny Chin prematurely certified a class of authors without first deciding if the ‘fair use’ defense under U.S. copyright law allowed Google to display snippets of books.”  (from Reuters)  John Dvorak, writing at, comments: “This is not over yet. The Author's Guild is going to sue Google over the fair use standard. This should, once and for all, give us some definitions of fair use that we can all benefit from. As far as the Author's Guild is concerned Google abuses its scans by letting people read snippets of the copyrighted books.” (link to his piece here)

Apple E-Book lawsuit:  Not long ago, had priced new e-Books at $9.99, and had a virtual monopoly on the e-Book market.  This led Apple to work with publishers so they could overcome this advantage using an “agency [pricing] model” (mentioned on this blog here).  Just recently, the U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan “sided with government regulators' contention that Apple joined five major book publishers to gang up [on] in a price-fixing conspiracy that caused consumers to pay more for electronic books.”  Words of the late Steve Jobs influenced the federal judge in determining that “Apple Inc. milked the popularity of its iTunes store to form an illegal cartel with publishers to raise electronic book prices.” (from the A.P.)  Apple denies any wrongdoing, and Ankur Kapoor, antitrust lawyer for the law firm Constantine Cannon, thinks Apple may win its appeal. He contends that Jobs may have simply understood the industry dynamics and cut smart deals – and that he did not necessarily get all the publishers to agree to raise prices, a practice known as "horizontal price fixing" (from A.P. article and Joab Jackson at  

Image credit:  

Articles linked to in post: