Pacific Media Watch

20 April 2016

GLOBAL: Google Books wins 10-year copyright fight with authors

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Google Books ... ‘‘the product acts like a card catalog for the digital age." Image: Official Review

Andrea Peterson
WASHINGTON (The Washington Post/The Boston Globe/Pacific Media Watch): The legal fight over Google’s effort to create a digital library of millions of book is finally over.

The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge from authors who had argued that the tech giant’s project was ‘‘brazen violation of copyright law’’ — effectively ending the decade-long legal battle in Google’s favor.

Without the Supreme Court taking up the case, a federal appeals court ruling from October, which found the book scanning program fell under the umbrella of "fair use", will stand.

Back in 2004, Google started scanning millions of books from major research libraries — creating a vast database from the digitised copies known as Google Books.

Users can search Google Books for quotes or keywords, and it will display paragraphs or pages of context for the results from within the books.

The Authors Guild started complaining about the project in 2005, arguing that Google Books had undermined writers by putting their work online for free.

Google and the guild worked out a settlement at one point, but it was rejected by a district court judge in 2011. After the ruling in Google’s favor last fall, the guild asked the Supreme Court to review the decision, a request that was denied Monday.

‘‘Today authors suffered a colossal loss,’’ Authors Guild president Roxana Robinson said in a statement about the High Court’s decision.

Google, which had filed a brief opposing the guild’s appeal, praised the court’s decision to pass on the case.

‘‘We are grateful that the court has agreed to uphold the decision of the Second Circuit, which concluded that Google Books is transformative and consistent with copyright law,’’ the company said in a statement.

‘‘The product acts like a card catalog for the digital age by giving people a new way to find and buy books while at the same time advancing the interests of authors.’’

Google wins copyright battle

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Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons