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Google’s Book Scanning Held as Fair Use
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Ultimately, after eight years of legal battle between Google and the Author Guild US Circuit Judge Denny Chin, dismissed the Author’s Guild’s lawsuit, holding that Google’s scanning of books for its Google Books was fair use. The ruling, if it stands, and is not appealed against, may now open the way for other companies also to index books and display search snippets.

Earlier, Judge Chin had rejected a $125 settlement between Google, the Association of American Publishers, and the Author’s Guild after complaints from other interested parties that such a settlement would give Google de facto monopoly over orphan texts.

  
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Thursday’s ruling, however, leaves the field open for other players.

In the ruling, Judge Denny Chin observed, “In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits.” Chin enumerated, “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.”

That Google’s actions also advances Google’s market position and business objectives without paying a penny to the authors and copyright owners of the books, was found immaterial by Chin against the benefits the copyright holders received by promotion of their works.

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While the court found that Google could use its service to increase visitors and make money in other ways, such commercial gain did not indicate copyright infringement and also did not “negatively impact the market for books.”

Chin said, “A reasonable factfinder could only find that Google Books enhances the sales of books to the benefit of copyright holders.”



Beyond, ordinary promotion, Chin observed, “Google Books provides a way for authors’ works to become noticed, much like traditional in-store book displays.”

The court found that by limiting the book searches to only snippets that can be read, and not by displaying advertisements on pages that describe books to which Google does not have rights to, it is quite within fair play.



 

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