Google Books Ruling Appealed

February 2, 2014

It’s not over until it’s over. The long process of determining whether Google’s giant Books project counts as “fair use” continues, we learn from “Authors Guild Appeals Ruling in Google Books Case” at The Authors Guild would like to see limits on the herculean digitization project, which has scanned more than 20 million books to date.

The brief write-up reveals:

“The Authors Guild is appealing a US judge’s decision in a long-running case that cleared legal obstacles for Google’s massive book-scanning project, court documents showed Monday. The group filed a notice of appeal in the case following a November 14 ruling by Federal Judge Denny Chin. Arguments are to be filed at a later date with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The guild vowed to appeal the case after Chin ruled that Google’s project is ‘fair use’ under copyright law because it provides vital educational and other public benefits. The case, which dates back to 2005, centers on a Google program started in 2004 to create an electronic database of books that could be searchable by keywords.”

Works in Google’s database that do not hold current copyrights are available online for free (Chaucer, anyone?) The problem, of course, involves copyrighted books. Those are not available for free in their entirety, but Google does maintain a searchable database, complete with snippets of text from each book. Google maintains that this practice, which the company considers akin to a virtual card catalog, complies with copyright law. Judge Chin, for one, seems to agree. Will the Authors Guild’s appeal get any traction?

Cynthia Murrell, February 02, 2014

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