Court upholds right to bring suit against Google, Inc. for copyright infringement

On May 31, 2012, The Honorable Denny Chin rejected Google Inc.’s motions to dismiss all associational plaintiffs for lack of standing in Authors Guild, et al. v. Google, Inc., Case No. 05-8136 (“Authors Guild Case”) and American Society of Media Photographers, Inc. et al. v. Google, Inc., Case No. 10-CV-2977 (“ASMP Case”), clearing the way for both cases to move forward on the associational plaintiffs’ claims of copyright infringement on behalf of their individual members.

In denying the motions to dismiss, Judge Chin held that “the equities in this case weigh in favour of finding that the associations have standing.” Adopting the associational plaintiffs’ argument that it would be wholly unfair to require the participation of each of their individual members, the Court recognized that: “[G]iven the sweeping and undiscriminating nature of Google’s unauthorized copying, it would be unjust to require that each affected association member litigate his claim individually. When Google copied works, it did not conduct an inquiry into the copyright ownership of each work . . . It copied and made search results available en masse. Google cannot now turn the tables and ask the Court to require each copyright holder to come forward individually and assert rights in a separate action. Because Google treated the copyright holders as a group, the copyright holders should be able to litigate on a group basis.”

Plaintiffs’ class certification motion in the ASMP Case is due August 20, 2012. In his Order, Judge Chin also granted class certification in the Authors Guild Case, for the proposed class of “all persons residing in the United States who hold a United States copyright interest in one or more Books reproduced by Google as part of its Library Project . . .” Motions for Summary Judgment in the Authors Guild Case are due June 26, 2012.

Mishcon de Reya New York LLP is representing all named plaintiffs and the entire putative class of plaintiffs as well as the associational plaintiffs in American Society of Media Photographers, Inc. et al. v. Google, Inc..