Photography organisations file lawsuit against Google

A number of organisations representing photographers has filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against Google. The reason for the lawsuit is Google’s ambitious and controversial bookproject, the scanning of all books that have ever been published to make them available online.

In 2009 photography organisations missed the opportunity to join the class action bookpublishers had initiated, now 3 years ago. The request to join the existing suit was denied because the organisations came in too late in the process and much time had already been spent going. This left the organisations no choice but to either back-of or file their own suit. The copyright infringement suit is filed by the following organisations and individuals:

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), joined by the Graphic Artists Guild , the Picture Archive Council of America , the North American Nature Photography Association , Professional Photographers of America, photographers Leif Skoogfors, Al Satterwhite, Morton Beebe, Ed Kashi and illustrators John Schmelzer and Simms Taback

The organisations claims Google is  ‘illegally scanning’ the books containing copyrighted images without regard to the rights of the creators. The class action also goes beyond the book project and includes what is labelled ‘Google’s other systematic and pervasive infringements of the rights of photographers, illustrators and other visual artists’ Here’s a quote from the announcement by the ASMP:

This action by ASMP and its sister organizations was taken in order to protect the interests of owners of copyrights in visual works from the massive and organized copying and public display of their images without regard to their contributions and rights to fair compensation. According to ASMP Executive Director Eugene Mopsik, “Through this suit, we are fulfilling the missions of our organizations and standing up for the rights of photographers and other visual artists who have been excluded from the process up to now. We strongly believe that our members and those of other organizations, whose livelihoods are significantly and negatively impacted, deserve to have representation in this landmark issue.” ASMP General Counsel Victor Perlman said, “We are seeking justice and fair compensation for visual artists whose work appears in the twelve million books and other publications Google has illegally scanned to date. In doing so, we are giving voice to thousands of disenfranchised creators of visual artworks whose rights we hope to enforce through this class action.”

The techdirt blog feels that Google has a good chance of winning the case of the grounds of fair use. On the Wired website Eugene Mopsik, executive director of the ASMP argues that:

 Picture: Stock Exchange | Helmet | Antonio-Jiminez-Alonso

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses