Last month, Google won its latest legal battle in its now eight-year-long argument with authors about scanning books, Authors Guild Inc et al v. Google Inc.

The judge decided that the scanning of millions of copyrighted books by Google falls within the definitions of “fair use.” The Authors Guild is unhappy and plans to appeal. The Guild said that “Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world’s… copyright-protected literature, and profits from displaying those works. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of fair use…”

There are many reports about this verdict, such as the one in the The New York Times. However, an article in Wired helpfully lays out the “four pillars of fair use” and why Google isn’t going against any of them. Scholarly Kitchen, a blog about scholarly publishing, adds details about the “benefits to society” that were mentioned by the judge.

The entire “who can do what with the books that they scan” issue is very complex. Other entities and lawsuits have also been in the news around the main question in all of this, which is copyright.

By the way, please do remember that any Google product will steer you toward Google Books. As this ruling points out, Google is still within the terms of fair use because Google doesn’t let you see the whole book. But your library has more than 1 million e-books whose full text you can see because we pay. So start your topic search in the library catalog to see the full text of any e-books in your results!


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