Google's Book Scanning Project Is Legal, Rules US Appeals Court

Google's aim to scan millions of out-of-print books to be accessed online has certainly drawn the ire of authors and publishers alike since 2004, thus inciting a lawsuit by the Authors Guild and other writers' group to be filed. The legal spat, however, has finally drawn to a close as a US appeals court on Friday ruled it legal under US copyright law.

Google had first started working with libraries back in 2004 as it wanted to convert books into digital format, these included works that are still protected under copyright to make snippets that would be accessible through Mountain View's Google Books search engine. This then resulted in authors filing a lawsuit against the search engine giant a year after as it breached their copyright and their rights to license their books to be searched in digital forms.

The claims of infringement that were brought by the group of writers were rejected by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Google uploading pieces of texts or snippets online is considered as a public service and constitutes fair use under the United States copyright law.

"Google's unauthorized digitizing of copyright-protected works, creation of a search functionality, and display of snippets from those works are non-infringing fair uses," the court concluded. Since Google Books only show a limited amount of text from a work, it does not make a significant impact to become a market substitute for the protect aspects of the original works.

Relatively, this isn't the first time the legal system has sided with Google. The 2nd US Circuit Court had rejected a similar lawsuit from the Authors Guild in June of last year, and in 2011, a US$125 million settlement was rejected by the same judge in New York who had originally approved the deal in 2009.

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