Google Wins Book-Scanning Lawsuit, Judge Rules Book Scanning is Fair Use

The long-runningGoogle Wins Book-Scanning Lawsuit, Judge Rules Book Scanning is Fair Use Google Lawsuit legal battle between Google and a coalition of publishers and the Authors Guild came to a resounding middle today. Judge Denny Chin has issued a ruling that finds for Google, and calls Google's decade old book scanning project fair use because it was "highly transformative" and didn't impact the market for the original work.

"Google Books provides significant public benefits," writes Chin, adding later that the program "advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders."

Naturally the publishers and the Authors Guild will appeal this ruling, which means this case is by no means concluded.

This case was originally filed in 2005, and in the past 8 years it has been appealed, settled (the settlement was rejected by the judge in 2011), argued, appealed again, and after all that we have a ruling which really should have been obvious from the very beginning.

Google wasn't scanning the books to sell them; they wanted to create searchable indexes. It's difficult to see how creators are harmed by this, and one could reasonably argue that they benefit when snippets from the contents of a book shows up in a Google Search.

Unfortunately this ruling could probably only have happened after the HaithiTrust won their case last October. That ruling, which is still being appealed, stated that the book scanning conducted by the HaithTrust, a coalition of university libraries, was transformative and thus fair use. This likely paved the way for Judge Chin's ruling today.

image by edenpictures

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

4 Comments

  1. Alexander Inglis14 November, 2013

    It’s a brilliant move. It allows all the text from 20 million books to be searchable, and viewable in snippet mode. It’s a huge step forward for scholarship.

    Copyright protected works remain copy protected and NOT viewable in full.

    Reply
  2. […] The Android version of Google Play Books got this feature about a month ago. It’s intended to help readers make better use of the texts that Google has scanned and uploaded as part of the Google Books project (the one that was recently found to be fair use). […]

    Reply
  3. […] The Authors Guild lost the 8 year old Google Books lawsuit last November, it was obvious that The AG would be filing an appeal of Judge Denny Chin’s ruling which […]

    Reply
  4. […] Authors Guild may have lost its 8-year-long lawsuit against Google last November, but they’re not through. The AG filed an appeal of that ruling in April of this year, and on […]

    Reply

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