The long-running lawsuit surrounding Google Books in the US has been put on hold for now. A US Appeals Court suspended the original lawsuit until an appeal filed by Google can be processed.
Earlier this year Google appealed the decision to give the author and publisher groups class action status, which would mean they were representing all authors that had been "wronged," not just the ones actually in court.
Google, obviously, wants the class action status removed and the appeals court agreed to pause the proceedings until this matter is resolved.
The lawsuit has been around since 2005 when the Authors Guild sued Google over scanning copyrighted and orphaned, out-of-print books for its Google Books project.
Google scans the books, but doesn't make copyrighted ones fully available online, rather it just uncovers paragraphs that may be relevant to a particular query.
Still, authors said they should be paid for this. The two sides reached an agreement a couple of years ago, which would give Google authority to scan orphaned books, for which the copyright holder can't be fined or determined.
However, the judge rejected the settlement and an amended one as he believed it gave Google monopoly power over the books, to the detriment of competitors who would not get the same deal.
With the settlement rejected, the two sides went back to the court fight
. In May this year, the judge presiding the case, Denny Chin, decided to give "class action" status to lawsuit to streamline the process.
This is what Google is now appealing and until this matter is solved, the Google Books lawsuit won't be moving forward. What it means in practice is that it's going to take a few more years before any conclusion is reached and that's without taking into account further appeals. In the meantime, out-of-print books remain unavailable to the public.