A long-running copyright infringement action by the Authors Guild (a non-profit authors’ organization) against Google has been temporarily placed on pause.  On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted Google’s unopposed motion for a stay pending its interlocutory appeal of class certification in The Authors Guild, Inc., et al. v. Google, Inc., No. 12-3200 (2d Cir.).  This dispute relates to Google’s practice of making unauthorized digital copies of copyrighted books for its Google Books service.  The Authors Guild claims that Google Books infringes authors’ copyrights; Google claims that it is fair use.

In its motion papers, Google argued that a stay is warranted because absent a stay, the district court will likely decide both sides’ motions for summary judgment before the class opt-out period expires.  Class members will thus have the benefit of knowing the court’s position on key issues before having to decide whether to remain in the class.  If Google prevails at the summary judgment stage, class members would have every incentive to opt out of the class to preserve their right to pursue individual claims against Google.  However, if The Authors Guild prevails, the class members would likely remain in the class and Google could face a judgment in the billions of dollars. 

As we reported last month, Judge Denny Chin, who retains the case at the district court level despite his elevation to the Second Circuit, certified a class of author plaintiffs on May 31.   On August 14, the Second Circuit granted Google Books leave to pursue an interlocutory appeal of the class certification.  On August 29, Judge Chin denied Google’s request to stay the district court proceedings.