Google’s Fair-Use Claim Prevails in the Google Books Case

The US District Court (for the Southern District of NY) has issued a decision granting summary judgment to the defendant in Authors Guild v Google. Judge Denny Chin has written a very straightforward and easy to read opinion that basically goes through the four fair-use factors. Upholding Google’s fair claim, the court concludes that:

Google Books provides significant public benefits. It 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. It has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers, librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books. It 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.  It facilitates access to books for print-disabled and remote or underserved populations. It generates new audiences and creates new sources of income for authors and publishers. Indeed, all society benefits.

This ruling is also a massive victory for librarians, educators, students and researchers.  In a subsequent post I will discuss the implications of the case in Canada.

Here is the text of the full decision:

[scribd id=184176014 key=key-uic5stu0oxb9ius2afk mode=scroll]

Also worth reading, as they were cited in the decision are two amicus briefs supporting the fair-use claim. One was one filed by the  ALA,  ACRL,  ARL and EFF and the other by a group of Digital Humanities and Law Scholars. The NY Times also has a good analysis with a collection of links to key documents.

Here is some initial commentary on the case: