By Deborah Jones
Published November 14, 2013
Google won a skirmish today in the exhausting copyright war between the company and the United States’ Authors Guild, over its Google Books project to digitally scan the world’s books. The guild maintains that Google is violating copyright – and in 2005 it launched a suit against the company.
Judge Denny Chin of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favour of Google, on the grounds the project has public benefits, constitutes fair use, and public access to digitized books is actually good for authors because it facilitates their book sales. The ruling is here.
Google states that its mission “is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It also says, in a 10-point statement about its philosophy, “You can make money without doing evil.”
“In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits. 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. It has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers,librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books. It has given scholars the ability, for the first time, to conduct full-text searches of tens of millions of books. It preserves books, in particular out-of-print and old books that have been forgotten in the bowels of libraries, and it gives them new life. It facilitates access to books for print-disabled and remote or underserved populations. It generates new audiences and creates new sources of income for authors and publishers.Indeed, all society benefits.”
“Even assuming plaintiffs have demonstrated a prima facie case of copyright infringement,Google’s actions constitute fair use here as well. Google provides the libraries with the technological means to make digital copies of books that they already own. The purpose of the library copies is to advance the libraries’ lawful uses of the digitized books consistent with the copyright law. The libraries then use these digital copies in transformative ways.They create their own full-text searchable indices of books,maintain copies for purposes of preservation, and make copies available to print-disabled individuals, expanding access for them in unprecedented ways. Google’s actions in providing the libraries with the ability to engage in activities that advance the arts and sciences constitute fair use.”
Copyright © 2013 Deborah Jones