Court Rules that Google Can Continue Scanning Copyrighted Books Under Fair Use

Published November 13, 2013

Eight years after the initiation of the Authors Guild v. Google lawsuit, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently announced that the web giant’s book scanning project stands within the bounds of United States copyright laws.

Although the authors and publishers sued Google for scanning more than 20 million books without gaining permission for publishing rights, U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin dismissed the lawsuit and ruled that the scans represent fair use. Despite the fact that Google Books lets users search through scanned books, the prominent factor in the decision was that consumers can only view short snippets of the books that have not been granted full approval by the publisher or author.

Within the judge’s decision, Judge Chin stated that Google Books actually provides considerable benefits to both the authors and public alike. While the site advances the progress of literature and the arts to the public, it still maintains respectful use of the texts and does not adversely infringe on the rights provided to copyright holders. Since the website also provides links to conveniently purchase the book being searched, the judge ruled that Google Books expands outreach to new audiences and generates increased income sources for authors.

The U.S. Circuit Judge declared that Google’s use of copyrighted works falls under the distinction of fair use because the company does not sell the scans the scans for its own profit or display ads on the pages for commercialization purposes. In his ruling, Judge Chin clearly indicated that Google Books is operating in full compliance with copyright laws as a card catalog for the digital age, thus giving users the benefit of finding books to purchase. Two years after rejecting a $125 million settlement between Google and the Authors Guild, Judge Chin has finally dismissed the lawsuit and ruled that Google Books does not negatively impact the book-selling market.

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