US Supreme Court rejects challenge to Google book-scanning project

Google can continue to scan books over Authors Guild objections

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a copyright infringement case against Google for its now 12-year-old effort to scan books and allow people to search them online.

The Supreme Court, without comment, rejected an appeal by the Authors Guild to overturn an October 2015 appeals court ruling finding that the massive Google books program falls under so-called fair use exemptions to copyright protections.

Fair use allows limited reuse of copyright-protected works for criticism, parodies, education, and other purposes. Fair use also allows for people to transform the original content into a new type of work, and that transformation of the printed books was part of Google's argument in this case.

The Authors Guild had argued that Google's "wholesale" copying of copyright-protected books would generate profits for the company at the expense of authors. The group wanted the Supreme Court to "recognize Google’s seizure of property as a serious threat to writers and their livelihoods, one which will affect the depth, resilience, and vitality of our intellectual culture," the Authors Guild said on a webpage detailing the case.

The Supreme Court decision gave authors a "colossal loss," Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson said in a statement. The guild still believes Google's effort was "a plain and brazen violation of copyright law."

Google Books project may lead to a short-term public benefit, but it will come at the expense of the future vitality of U.S. culture, Robinson added. "The denial of review is further proof that we're witnessing a vast redistribution of wealth from the creative sector to the tech sector, not only with books, but across the spectrum of the arts," she said.

Google wasn't immediately available for comment.

The Copyright Alliance, a trade group representing copyright holders, said it was disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision. The high court has allowed an appeals court decision that "dramatically expands the boundaries" of fair use to stand, Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid wrote in a blog post.

The appeals court "held that Google did not need the consent of the copyright holders of 20 million books to digitize those books in order to create a publicly searchable database containing those and other books," Kupferschmid added. "The court’s holding was based on a dubious finding that Google’s mass digitizing effort was a fair use because the Google Books project conveys 'information' about the works to users and therefore transforms the books."

The Google Books case wound through the courts since 2005, when the Authors Guild first sued Google. The two sides reached a proposed US $125 million settlement in 2008, but a judge later rejected the deal over concerns that it would give Google a monopoly over scanned books.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?