Google Defeats Authors in U.S. Book-Scanning Lawsuit
Google Inc on Thursday won dismissal of a long-running lawsuit by authors who accused the Internet search company of digitally copying millions of books for an online library without permission.
U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan accepted Google’s argument that its scanning of more than 20 million books, and making “snippets” of text available online, constituted “fair use” under U.S. copyright law.
The decision, if it survives an expected appeal, would let Google continue expanding the library, which it said helps readers find books they might not otherwise locate.
It is also turning point for litigation that began in 2005, when authors and publishers sued. Google has estimated it could owe more than $3 billion if the Authors Guild, an advocacy group that demanded $750 for each scanned book, prevailed.
“This is a big win for Google, and it blesses other search results that Google displays, such as news or images,” said James Grimmelmann, a University of Maryland intellectual property law professor who has followed the case.
“It is also a good ruling for libraries and researchers, because the opinion recognizes the public benefit of making books available,” he added.
Chin wrote that the scanning makes it easier for students, teachers, researchers and the public to find books, while maintaining “respectful consideration” for authors’ rights.
He also said Google’s digitization was “transformative,” meaning it gave the books a new purpose or character, and could be expected to boost rather than reduce book sales.