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Second Circuit OKs Google Books Class Certification Challenge

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on August 14, 2012 4:03 PM

Google has changed how we search, email, and navigate. It's altered how we tell our friends to find their own answers. It's a part of the zeitgeist.

Google also dreams of changing the way that we read books, but achieving that dream is a legal nightmare that has made its way to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Google has been embroiled in a legal action for 7 years after reaching agreements in 2004 with several large research libraries to scan and post sections of more than 20 million books, reports The Associated Press.

Authors fought back against the digitization plan, claiming that Google Books copied their work without permission. The Authors Guild then filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the writers.

The parties reached a settlement agreement in 2008, but a district judge denied their request for final settlement approval in 2011. The case rebooted, and District Judge Denny Chin ruled earlier this year that the authors could proceed with a class action lawsuit against Google because the form was "more efficient and effective than requiring thousands of authors to sue individually," reports the AP.

Google appealed that decision to the Second Circuit, arguing that many class members could benefit economically from individual claims, and that case-by-case determinations were necessary for "fair use" analysis, reports Reuters. Google also invoked the Supreme Court's Walmart v. Dukes reasoning, claiming that even if "droves" of authors raised common issues, there was no "common answer" to address them.

This week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals said that Google can challenge the class certification.

A Second Circuit ruling against class certification could effectively reduce the number of litigants in the case. Many authors don't have the resources for this kind of litigation, and might choose to abandon their claims if forced litigate outside of a class.

The Second Circuit hasn't indicated when it will hear arguments in the class certification challenge.

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