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Authors Guild v. Google (Google II)

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Citation Edit

Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc. (Google II) 954 F.Supp.2d 282 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

Defendant Google, Inc. collaborated with several major research libraries to digitize their collections for the Google Books project. Plaintiffs, the Authors Guild, Inc. and individual copyright owners, complained that Google scanned more than twenty-million books without permission or payment of license fees. Google made the digital copies available to its library partners. It also maintained copies on Google servers and on backup tapes, created an electronic index, and displayed "snippets" of text in search engine results. Plaintiffs alleged that Google infringed by using copyrighted books without permission. [American Association of Publishers was a plaintiff in the initial complaint, but settled before the district court decided the case.]

The issue for the court was whether it was fair use to digitally copy entire books from library collections, without permission or payment, and to make the digital copies available for library collections and for the public to search electronically using a search engine.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

The court held that Google's digitization and subsequent use of the copyrighted works was fair use. It found that Google's use "transforms expressive text into a comprehensive word index that helps readers, scholars, researchers and others find books." The court stated that transforming book text into data opened new fields of research. It also held that the "amount and substantiality" factor weighed only slightly against fair use because Google Books' search function required use of the entire text, and Google limited the amount of text it displayed to users in their search engine results. It also found that Google Books would not negatively affect the potential market for or value of the copyrighted works because Google did not sell the digital copies, prevented users from viewing entire books, and enhanced book sales by facilitating their discovery and online purchases.

while the court found the Google Books project to be fair use, it did not address whether a mass digitization project involving uses beyond the display of snippets would qualify for such protection.

The case brought by the photographer plaintiffs settled in September 2014.[1]

The author plaintiffs have appealed the fair use decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Oral argument was held on December 3, 2014.

References Edit

  1. Press Release, National Press Ass'n, "Google, Photographers Settle Litigation Over Books" (Sept. 5, 2014) (full-text).

Source Edit

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