Google’s Book Scanning Project Is Perfectly Legal, Says Appeals Court

Google Book Scanning Project Deemed Legal

Google’s massive attempt to scan and catalogue millions of books is legal. That was the decision handed down on Friday by a U.S. appeals court.

According to the ruling, Google’s online library does not violate copyright law, rejecting claims from a group of authors that the project illegally deprives them of revenue.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected infringement claims from the Authors Guild and several individual writer’s, and found that the project provides a public service without violating intellectual property law.

The lawsuit was brought against Google in 2005, one year after the project was launched

Google argued at the time that the project would make it easier to find books, thus leading to an increase in revenue.

Google told investors when the original verdict was handed down, that it could cost the search giant billions of dollars.

Circuit Judge Denny Chin, who oversaw the case at the lower court level, dismissed the litigation in 2013, prompting the authors’ appeal.

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Chin says posting “snippets” online constitutes “fair use” under U.S. copyright law.

A three-judge appeals panel unanimously admitted that Google’s project “tests the boundaries of fair use,” but found Google’s practices were still legal under current copyright laws.

“Google’s division of the page into tiny snippets is designed to show the searcher just enough context surrounding the searched term to help her evaluate whether the book falls within the scope of her interest (without revealing so much as to threaten the author’s copyright interests),” Circuit Judge Pierre Leval wrote in the panels decision.

Google spokesman Aaron Stein said the project is a giant “card catalog for the digital age.”

“Today’s decision underlines what people who use the service tell us: Google Books gives them a useful and easy way to find books they want to read and buy, while at the same time benefiting copyright holders,” he said.

The case is Authors Guild v. Google Inc, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-4829.