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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Googlecopyright

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?