EFF – Court Upholds Legality of Google Books

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on November 14, 2013

It’s a good day for fair use and sane copyright law.  After years of litigation, Judge Denny Chin has ruled that the Google Books project does not infringe copyright.  Readers, authors, librarians and future fair users can rejoice. For years, Google has been cooperating with libraries to digitize books and create massive, publicly available and searchable books database. Users can search the database, which includes millions of works for keywords. Results include titles, page numbers, and small snippets of text. It has become an extraordinarily valuable tool for librarians, scholars, and amateur researchers of all kinds. As the court noted (citing an amicus brief EFF filed jointly with several library associations) librarians use the service for a variety of research purposes. Many librarians reported that they have purchased new books for their collections after discovering them through Google Books. Nonetheless, the Authors Guild argues that its members are owed compensation in exchange for their books being digitized and included in the database – even though blocking Google Book Search’s digitization wouldn’t bring any author any additional revenue.”

  • See also Google Books: A Victory for Both Big Business and Individual Authors, by Tanvi Mirani: “The proliferation of digitalization has had many observable impacts on commercial enterprises.  One example has been in the realm of intellectual property, where authors who seek direct financial compensation for their creative works are pit against large companies who seek to distribute these works to the general public without compensating the author for each distribution. An obvious example concerns Google Books, a division of the search engine giant, which enables viewers to access portions of scanned books at no charge. The materials accessible to the public include “orphan works,” pieces that are afforded copyright protection, despite the fact that the owner of the copyright cannot be determined.  In reproducing these works, Google retains a digital copy of the manuscript for its own commercial use.”

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