A 2013 ruling that Google Books did not violate any copyright laws has just been upheld by an appeals court. This means that the suit brought about by the Authors Guild and other independent artists, claiming that the tech giant violated copyright laws by publishing snippets of books they’re selling on Google Play Books, is all but over for now. The decision was made 2 years ago but the plaintiffs brought it to the appeals court to try and get a different outcome for them.
The appeals court ruling said that the snippet view only shows “tiny fragments” of the book and what they show on the Google Books library is no more than 16% of a book. “This does not threaten the rights holders with any significant harm to the value of their copyrights or diminish their harvest of copyright revenue,” read part of the ruling. This upholds the 2013 decision of US District Judge Denny Chin, who also explained that having these snippets up will not badly affect the books and publishers.
The Authors Guild together with other independent artists/publishers also claimed that Google was doing this for profit, as they are selling these books in their Google Books store, therefore violating one of the principles of the fair use policy. But the ruling said otherwise, even using the example of news reporting and commentary, review of books, performances, etc as normally done for profit but were “universally accepted forms of fair use.”
The snippet feature of Google Books gives you a snapshot of a tiny portion of a book that you are planning to buy or just skimming through. Then if you want to buy it, you are led to Google Play Books where you can make the purchase, but there are also links to other retailers who sell the book as well, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, etc.