This week the US Court of Appeals Second Circuit issued Google a reprieve from class action certification. Google was alleged by the Authors Guild to have committed copyright infringement by copying and displaying “snippets” of millions of books in the Library Project of its Google Books search tool. The parties had reached an earlier settlement agreement that was rejected by the District Court. When the Guild received class certification, Google appealed.
The Appeals Court held that class certification was premature in the absence of a determination by the District Court of the merits of Google’s “fair use” defense. Authors Guild Inc., et al. v. Google Inc. The Court stated that “resolution of Google’s fair use defense in the first instance will necessarily inform and perhaps moot our analysis of many class certification issues, including those regarding the commonality of plaintiffs’ injuries, the typicality of their claims, and the predominance of common questions of law or fact.” The District Court’s decision was vacated and the case remanded back for this analysis prior to any class certification decision.