After an eight year battle, Google has finally won a lawsuit surrounding Google Books. The lawsuit centered around copyright protection the Authors Guid felt Google violated. By scanning books, and making text and cover images searchable, the Authors Guild contended Google violated their copyright protection, and scanned the material without permission. Google’s contention was that the act was transformative enough to warrant no such legal action.
According to Judge Denny Chin, Google was right. “The use of book text to facilitate search through the display of snippets is transformative” he said, and went on to cite Perfect 10 v. amazon.com, which he believes shows precedent for this case. In that instance, Amazon was sued for using thumb nailed images of books as searchable content.
After the verdict, Authors Guild issued a prepared statement, saying (in part) “This case presents a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of the fair use defense.” This, as you may have guessed, is a precursor for appeal. While Authors Guild is set to see this all the way through, it could have little effect moving forward.
A precedent was set with the Amazon case, and essentially upheld by this ruling. While it’s clear to see the merits of the argument, the case seems to have little basis moving forward. Google may be using the data they get from scanning the books for search purposes, but they can’t sell advertising or charge money for the books.