Judge sides with Google on book-scanning case

November 14
8:37 PM 2013

Google triumphed in its copyright case with the Authors Guild on the search giant's move to scan millions of books from libraries so they could be available online. The legal battle started eight years ago. Judge Denny Chin of the US Circuit Court in New York ruled that the scanning can be classified as fair use since it was "highly transformative." Chin also said that the scanning was not detrimental to the marketing for the author's work.

In his decision, Chin said that the significant public benefits were derived from Google Books. He called the service an essential tool for research, adding that scanning the books enhanced access for those who were blind. Chin also said Google Books was a means of preserving the text of old books and protecting them against decay.

As far as the claim that Google Books was preventing authors from earning money from their work, Chin said the search giant did not sell the scans. He also Google did not make the entire book available on the Internet. Instead, he ruled that the service enabled readers to find new books which translated to new income for the authors.

In an emailed statement to Gigaom, Google said they were delighted with the judgment. The company reiterated that Google Books complied with copyright laws and that it acted as a card catalog for the digital age.

However, Paul Aiken, the Executive Director of Authors Guild said they would make an appeal.  He added, "We disagree with and are disappointed by the court's decision today. This case presents a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court. Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world's valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of the fair use defense."

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