Google Wins Book Scanning Suit

The Google Book lawsuit has been settled in the search engine’s favor. On November 14, 2013 Judge Denny Chin dismissed the Author’s Guild lawsuit, which claimed that Google’s program of scanning and indexing books, and posting portions of those books online, violated copyright. Chin ruled that the scanning program is fair use, but went even further, saying, “Google Books provides significant public benefits. 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.”

The Authors Guild argued that Google’s Book Search program, which enables people to search inside scanned texts, would “negatively impact the market for books,” but Chin disagreed: “To the contrary, a reasonable factfinder could only find that Google Books enhances the sales of books to the benefit of copyright holders.”

Google issued a statement declaring themselves “absolutely delighted,” and continuing, “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.”

The Authors Guild has vowed to appeal, with executive director Paul Aiken telling Publishers Lunch, “”We disagree with and are disappointed by the court’s decision. 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.”

The full ruling is available online here.