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A federal judge has decided to suspend a trial between Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and a group of authors until an appeals panel can decide whether the case should receive class status. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the case will be on hold while the court considers Google’s appeal against class status. According to the one-page order by Circuit Judge Raymond J. Lohier Jr., both sides agreed to the stay.
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The Authors Guild first filed the case seven years ago after Google planned to create the world’s largest digital books collection, alleging the search company was not making “fair use” of copyrighted material. It asked for class status on the basis that it was impractical for each author to sue the company.
Google has already scanned more than 20 million books for the project and the Guild wants $750 in damages for each copyrighted book that has been copied. Google sought the trial delay with the logic that there was “the prospect of a class-wide defeat — with a judgment of potentially billions of dollars — or a greatly diminished victory,” according to a court filing. “A stay is necessary to prevent this anomalous result,” Google said.
The company also said there were several authors who would fall within the determined class, but who believe they benefit from Google Books. It said class representatives “seeking to dismantle Google Books cannot adequately represent absent class members who support the project.”
Circuit Judge Denny Chin granted the Guild’s request for class status in a May 31 order, but the appeals court has now given Google permission to challenge that decision.
In March 2001, Judge Chin had rejected a $125 million settlement of the lawsuit, ruling it gave Google excessive power to copy books without permission.
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