Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been embroiled in a seven-year-old copyright infringement case as a result of its attempt to develop the largest online library. A recent ruling by a federal appeals court might have just delayed the case for another year. The Authors Guild v. Google, which started in 2005 when a collection of authors sued Google for copyright infringement, was going to move forward to a possible conclusion.
The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday to grant a stay on the proceedings in the case after Judge Denny Chin ruled in May that the authors in the case should be granted class status, stating that having a class-action suit would be more efficient legally rather than having each individual author make its own claim. Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) requested the stay, saying that the authors should have a chance to opt-out of the class before there is a final decision of Google’s appeal of the class-status decision.
This time, though, the stay was consented to by the plaintiffs. Judge Chin initially denied the stay on the case, saying that due to the length of the case, the case has been fully briefed and the merits would have to be decided eventually anyway, so granting such a delay would not serve the best interests of the parties. Judge Chin ordered class-staus originally in lieu of individual cases by three named plaintiffs, because of the efficiency of the class, and also because Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is accused of “uniform, widespread practice of copying entire books without permission of the copyright holder” that may impact thousands if not millions of authors who aren’t currently named in the lawsuit. He determined hat whether the extensive scanning of published works would be considered copyright infringement does not need to be based on a case-by-case basis but can be considered as a group.
The extension of an already costly legal battle for another year may not mean much to Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) investors like hedge-fund manager Julian Robertson of Tiger Management, but seeing this resolved in some way sooner rather be later would establish some certainty.