May 19, 2022

Fair Use: Authors Guild Petitions U.S. Supreme Court to Review Google Books Case

The petition was filed by the Authors Guild on New Years Eve.

From Authors Guild News Release:

In petitioning the Supreme Court, the Guild seeks to correct what it views as a flawed decision by the Second Circuit court of appeals in New York—and, specifically, what it contends is that court’s crucial misinterpretation of copyright law’s fair use doctrine. The Guild believes that this is an important case for Supreme Court review: there are circuit splits in several areas of fair use law and others need clarification. The Supreme Court has not heard a fair use case in over 20 years, and the fair use law has transformed greatly in that time.

“Google copied books illegally—without permission, and because it could. It was inconvenient for it to seek permission, so it’s that simple,” said Mary Rasenberger, Executive Director of the Authors Guild and a copyright attorney. “Its actions cannot be justified after the fact just because Google Books uses the books to provide a research service in addition to the many other uses it has made for profit.”

“Even so,” she added, “we’re not asking for Google Books to be shut down. All we’re asking is for authors to be compensated, if they wish, for the value their works bring to Google. We want to make that very clear. Our members are some of the biggest users of Google Books.”

“It is crucial to set proper boundaries for fair use,” Rasenberger continued. “If the Second Circuit’s expansive view of fair use is not checked, the exception will swallow the rule in no time. We have become spoiled by the riches of a well-functioning copyright system, and so we take it for granted. Let’s not now create a society that favors only sponsored or independently wealthy writers.”

Direct to Full Text of Petition (186 pages; PDF)

See Also: The Authors Guild files to take Google to the Supreme Court (via WaPo)

See Also: Google Book Scanning Project Challenged In Supreme Court (via Jurist)

UPDATE: Authors Guild Appeals Lower Court Decision Backing Google’s Book Digitizing Project (via SEL)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.