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Thursday, April 08, 2010
Photographers File Class Action Against Google

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), has filed a class action copyright infringement suit against Google, in the U.S. District for the Southern District of New York.

The ASMP is 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 suit, which was filed by Mishcon de Reya New York LLP, is related Google?s scanning of millions of books and other publications containing copyrighted images and displaying them to the public without regard to the rights of the visual creators.

ASMP and the other trade associations, representing thousands of members, decided to file the class action after the Court denied their request to join the currently pending $125 million class action that had previously been filed primarily on behalf of text authors in connection with the Google Library Project. ASMP says that the new class action goes beyond Google?s Library Project, and includes Google?s other "systematic and pervasive" infringements of the rights of photographers, illustrators and other visual artists.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin is overseeing both lawsuits. He has not decided whether to approve the $125 million accord.

"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," the ASMP said in a statement. 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 earlier settlement arose from a 2005 lawsuit by the Authors Guild and other publishers over the scanning of millions of books from libraries into digital form.

Under the proposed terms, Google would pay $125 million to create a book rights registry and would allow authors and publishers to register their own works, while having other ways to earn money from works posted online. and Microsoft are among the opponents of the settlement, while Sony favors it.

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