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November 19, 2013 > Google Books search case dismissed by court

Google Books search case dismissed by court

Submitted By Jazzy Wright

After eight years of litigation, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York upheld the fair use doctrine when the court dismissed Authors Guild v. Google, a case that questioned the legality of GoogleÕs searchable book database.

The Library Copyright AllianceÑcomprised of the American Library Association, the Association of College & Research Libraries and the Association of Research LibrariesÑwelcomes Judge Denny ChinÕs decision to protect the search database that allows the public to search more than 20 million books. In his dismissal of the case, Judge Chin enumerated the public benefits of Google Book Search by calling the project transformative and a fair use under the copyright law.

ÒIt has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers, librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books,Ó Judge Chin wrote, referencing an amicus brief submitted by the Library Copyright Alliance. ÒIt 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."

ÒALA applauds the decision to dismiss the long running Google Books case,Ó said Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association. ÒThis ruling furthers the purpose of copyright by recognizing that GoogleÕs Book search is a transformative fair use that advances research and learning.Ó

ÒThis decision, along with the decision by Judge Baer in Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, makes clear that fair use permits mass digitization of books for purposes that advance the arts and sciences, such as search, preservation and access for the print-disabled,Ó said Carol Pitts Diedrichs, president of the Association of Research Libraries.

In 2005, the Authors Guild sued Google over the scanning of over 20 million library books from several research libraries without the prior authorization of rights holders. The purpose of the digitization project was to create a searchable index of books that would allow key word searching of the collections of major research libraries. The searchable index is accessible to the public who would not otherwise be able to search research collections.

The District Court ruling bodes well for libraries, scholars, and researchers in the pending appeal of Authors Guild v. HathiTrust. Judge Chin agreed with Judge Baer's fair use analysis in the HathiTrust case, indicating that the result in the Google case is compatible with the HathiTrust decision and suggesting a favorable decision on appeal.

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