8 Years Later, Google’s Book Scanning Crusade Ruled ‘Fair Use’

This article, by Cade Metz, originally appeared on the Wired site on 11/14/13.

Eight years after a group of authors and publishers sued Google for scanning more than 20 million library books without the permission of rights holders, a federal judge has ruled that the web giant’s sweeping book project stayed within the bounds of U.S. copyright law.

On Thursday morning, U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin dismissed a lawsuit from the Authors Guild, ruling that Google’s book scans constituted fair use under the law. Though Google scanned those 20 million books in full and built a web service, Google Books, that lets anyone search the digital texts, users can only view “snippets” of a book if the right holder hasn’t given approval.

“In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits,” the ruling reads. “It 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.”

In a statement sent to WIRED, a Google spokesperson said the company was “absolutely delighted” with the ruling. “As we have long said, Google Books is in compliance with copyright law and acts like a card catalog for the digital age giving users the ability to find books to buy or borrow.”

Michael Boni, a partner with Boni & Zack, the law firm representing the Authors Guild, did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment. Nor did the Authors Guild. But the Guild has told other news outlets it will appeal the decision.


Click here to read the rest of the article, which includes a statement from the Authors Guild, on Wired.

Also see this article, Google Books Ruling a Win for Fair Use … and Rich Tech Companies, on Slate.