3 Count: Plagiarizing Judges

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1: Google Presses Fair Use Case in Book Scanning Appeal

First off today, Jeff Roberts at Paid Content writes that Google has filed it’s brief with the Court of Appeals in its case with the Authors Guild over Google Book Search. This appeal deals specifically with the class action status of the case, which the lower court granted despite Google’s protest. According to the brief, Google claims the case should not be a class action matter since, as a case dealing with questions of fair use, it needs to be judged book by book rather than as a whole. Furthermore, Google says that most authors approve of the scanning with 58 percent saying they approve and 45% saying they expected greater demand because of it. Google’s Book Search product scans books in libraries and makes them searchable online, but only displays a fraction of the text when doing so. Authors and publishers alike protested this and sued, but a pair of settlements were shot down by the court for being overly broad. The Publishers Guild has already settled with Google separately and the Authors Guild is pressing on, seeking $750 per book and class action status to sue as a group.

2: Plagiarism Ruling Under Scrutiny

Next up today, Natalie Stechyson of the Windsor Star writes that the Supreme Court in Canada is dealing with a case that will determine whether or not a judge can plagiarize his ruling. The case centers around a tragedy involving a hospital that was sued after a birth went wrong and resulted in brain damage to the baby. The judge ruled in favor of the family, awarding them $4 million in damages. However, according to an analysis of the judge’s writing, he lifted 321 of his 368 paragraph ruling straight from a filing from the plaintiffs without attribution. This prompted an appeals court to order a retrial of the case, which in turn prompted the appeal to the Supreme Court. The defendants are claiming that the plagiarism indicates that the judge was biased against them while the plaintiffs argue that the heavy reuse of content does not have an effect on his impartiality in the matter.

3: Sound and Fury Over Faulkner Copyright Litigation

Finally today, Lisa Shuchman at Law.com writes that owners of William Faulkner’s writing have filed suits against Sony Pictures, Northrop Grumman and the Washington Post, claiming that the three companies used quotes from Faulkner in an infringing way. The three cases all deal with Faulkner quotes used in other works, a movie, an advertisement and an essay respectively, but are all very short in nature. Such quotes are commonly used without litigation as they are widely believed to be protected under the doctrine of fair use. However, Faulkner Literary Rights LLC, the owners of the copyright to Faulkner’s works, claims that these uses are not and is suing all three in much-derided cases. All three of the defendants appear to be prepared to litigate the cases, setting up a possible fair use showdown that, most experts, believe Faulkner’s estate will likely lose, even though fair use is inherently unpredictable in nature.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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