Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Judge Says Google Book-Scanning Is Fair Use

Google has been fighting the Authors Guild since 2005 — eons in Internet time — over the search company’s efforts to scan copyrighted books. Today, Google Books got a big win, with a U.S. District Court judge declaring that book scanning is fair use, because it transforms printed text into searchable word indexes.

pile of books

Shutterstock/Africa Studio

Over the years, the case had been settled and appealed and pursued as a class-action lawsuit and reopened — but, all the while, Google’s index of 20 million books was available online.

Today’s ruling noted that Google limits readers from copying the full text with a scheme that makes at least one in 10 pages from any book unavailable. Google Books “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,” wrote Judge Denny Chin. GigaOM has good analysis and the full decision here.

Google said in a statement, “This has been a long road and we are absolutely delighted with today’s judgement. As we have long said Google Books is in compliance with copyright law and acts like a card catalog for the digital age — giving users the ability to find books to buy or borrow.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work