Google is allowed to scan millions of books and publish the search results in the internet


Google is allowed to scan millions of books and publish the search results in the internet

Monday, 18 November, 2013

Google’s idea to scan millions of books and make them searchable online seemed audacious when it was announced in 2004. But fast-forward to today, when people expect to find almost anything they want online, and the plan seems like an unsurprising and unavoidable part of today’s Internet. So when a judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit that authors had filed against Google after countless delays, it had the whiff of inevitability. Even the judge, Denny Chin of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, said during a September hearing on the case that his law clerks used Google Books for research. “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,” Judge Chin wrote in his ruling. “Indeed, all society benefits.”  The Authors Guild said it disagreed with the decision and planned to appeal. Google said it was “delighted” with the outcome.

Google began its book-scanning project in 2004, without obtaining permission from copyright holders. The next year, groups representing authors and publishers sued Google claiming copyright violations, beginning an eight-year court battle. In the meantime, Google has continued to scan more than 20 million books, the majority of which are out of print, without compensating copyright holders. They are searchable on the Google Books website, which returns snippets but not entire texts. Some full books are for sale on Google Play through partnerships with publishers. Google also has certain agreements to give libraries and publishers digital copies of their books that it scans. Google and other technology companies often push the limits of regulation and law, and hope that eventually the rest of the world — and the law — will catch up. The ruling examined whether Google’s use of copyrighted works counted as so-called fair use under copyright law, which Judge Chin determined it did. The decision opened the door for other companies to also scan books.

Link Judgment: United States District Court


Dr Christoph Kerres LLM (Georgetown)

For more legal information please contact Mr Kerres via tel +43 (1) 516 60 or e-mail

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