Google Scans Win Court Approval

A long simmering feud between Authors and Google resulting from its library scanning project was resolved when the US District Court in New York decided in Google’s favor dismissing the authors’ lawsuit. The scanning involved whole materials, but only made snippets available to the public through Google search. The Court found this mechanism to be a fair use and not copyright infringement.

Judge Chin, who fittingly was the presiding US District Court Judge hearing this case in 2004 and retained jurisdiction after his appointment to the US Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit, decided  Authors Guild v. Google,  finding that Google Books provided significant public benefits allowing scholars to analyze huge amounts of data, preserve and expand access to books and generate new audiences, potentially creating new sources of income for authors and publishers.

The Court did a fair use balancing test weighing the benefits of the advanced search technology of Google against the rights of Authors not to have whole works scanned and stored in the cloud. As much as the Authors Guild contested this project, many authors favored it for the reasons Judge Chin cited. It might be fair to say that Google’s use of the authors works was transformative as rather than compromising existing markets for authors works, it created the potential for new markets.

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