Google's book scanning project is fair use, appeals court rules

A U.S. appeals court has turned the last page on a ten-year epic in which authors tried to put a stop to Google's project to scan the collections of libraries around the world

Google's book scanning project constitutes fair use under U.S. copyright law, an appeals court confirmed Friday, ending a ten-year legal fight by the Authors Guild and other writers' groups to have it stopped.

Google began working with libraries in 2004 to digitize their book collections, including works still protected under copyright, and makes snippets of the digital copies accessible through its Google Books search engine.

Authors filed suit against Google in 2005, complaining that this breached their copyright, and also their right to license their works for search in digital form. Google defended its actions, saying that they constituted "fair use," one of the allowed exceptions to U.S. copyright law.

The case followed a complex path through the courts, at one point taking a break while authors tried to broker a settlement with Google, then ricocheted back and forth between the district and appeals courts until Friday's ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The court concluded that "Google’s unauthorized digitizing of copyright-protected works, creation of a search functionality, and display of snippets from those works are non-infringing fair uses."

The copying of the works is "highly transformative," it said, and since the amount of text displayed from a work at any one time is limited, it does not provide a significant market substitute for the protected aspects of the originals.

The Authors Guild had tried to argue that because Google is a commercial enterprise, its actions could not be fair use, but the court disagreed. As for Google's distribution of the digitized copies to the libraries, that too was allowed as Google had agreed with the libraries that they would use the copies "in a manner consistent with the copyright law."

Since the lawsuit was filed, Google has partnered with some publishing companies to add their original digital files to its book search engine: The dispute over the library project was that it was conducted without the explicit permission of the copyright holders.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Googlecopyright

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?