Way back in 2004, working with academic libraries, Google undertook a massive project to scan and digitize their holdings. The company declared the Google Books project an effort to democratize knowledge, making the books free and available to everyone with an Internet connection. There was a hitch, however: Some of the 20 million works the company digitizied were under copyright. The Authors Guild brought suit against Google in 2005.
On Thursday, a summary judgement was issued in favor of the Internet company.
In his summary judgment, U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin wrote that Google's scanning and display of snippets of text constitutes fair use. He wrote that the project was "transformative" and declared in his 30-page judgment, "the fact is that Google Books serves several important educational purposes."
The Authors Guild plans to appeal the decision, which could send the case to the Supreme Court.
"Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world's valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works," Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, told Reuters after the judgment was issued. "Such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of the fair use defense."
"This has been a long road and we are absolutely delighted with today's judgment," Google said in a statement. "As we have long said, Google Books is in compliance with copyright law and acts like a card catalog for the digital age."
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