Google wins a major IP battle with book publishers

Google has won a long-running court battle against book publishers over the right for it to scan millions of books and add them to its search results.

The Google Book project is in the process of scanning around 20 million books from the libraries of Harvard University, Oxford University, Stanford University, the University of California, the University of Michigan and the New York Public Library.

In 2005, advocacy group the Authors Guild sued the tech giant claiming the scanning of books currently under copyright amounted to a vast violation of the intellectual property rights of authors and publishers.

The group sued Google for $US3 billion, or $US750 per book.

However,Reuters reports US Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan found in favour of Google’s argument that it only made snippets of the text available in search results, and constituted a fair use under copyright law.

In a statement, Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken vowed to appeal the decision.

“We disagree with and are disappointed by the court’s decision today,” Aiken says.

“This case presents a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court. Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world’s valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of fair use defence.”

For its part, Google is celebrating its judgement, likening its search products to a library card-filing system.

“This has been a long road and we are absolutely delighted with today’s judgment,” Google states.

“As we have long said, Google Books is in compliance with copyright law and acts like a card catalogue for the digital age.”

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