If you are an author or publisher who took all the proper legal steps to protect your works, you should feel confident that your works can’t be used without your permission – right?
Back in 2004 Google began scanning millions of books without permission from authors and publishers and making portions of them available online through Google Books. In 2005, groups representing the authors and publishers promptly filed suit against the internet giant for copyright infringement. This was destined to be a watershed case that would have immeasurable impact on fair use copyright laws.
On November 14th of 2013 after eight long years of legal wrangling and delays, Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed the lawsuitruling that Google did not violate fair use doctrine under copyright law. The judge even admitted that his clerks used Google Books for research.
In his ruling, Judge Chin wrote, in part, that Google’s book scanning “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. Indeed, all society benefits.” He also expressed his opinion that Google Books does not replace books because the site uses security measures such as skipping one of every ten pages in order to prevent copying, as well as asserting that Google Books actually helps authors and publishers by “creating new audiences and sources of income.”
The groups representing the publishers split from the authors groups and reached an agreement with Google back in 2011, while the groups representing the authors forged ahead with the suit. One of the groups, The Authors Guild, stated that they intend to appeal the Second Circuit ruling. Authors fear that the ruling will now open the door for other internet sites to follow Google’s lead and begin scanning books.
It’s safe to say that in the age of the internet laws that seemed long settled may in fact be open to new interpretations from the courts.
I’m Francine Ward, Attorney, Speaker, and Author sharing my opinion. How do you feel about the use of Google Books? Do you incorporate Google Books in your research projects? Join the conversation on my legal Facebook Fan Page, legal Twitter Page, or in one of my LinkedIn groups.