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Google, books and 'fair use'

Google, books and 'fair use'

Twelve years after Google shocked the book industry by announcing plans to copy millions of library books into a new online directory, the legal battle over the project has finally ended. The Supreme Court affirmed on Monday that Google can make copies for its index without obtaining the copyright holders' permission or paying them for the privilege. Google's wholesale copying may seem outrageous on first blush, but in the end, the court's decision served the public's interest — and the book industry's.

Google's book search project — begun in 2004 with the collections from five major libraries, then expanded to more than a dozen other collections — aims to make the world of physical...