Google Wins the Right to Keep Scanning Millions of Books for Free

By Adam Clark Estes on at

Nearly a decade after it started, the lawsuit between the Authors' Guild and Google over its book-scanning program has been thrown out. This means that Google can keep digitising millions of books for free distribution, and more importantly, that fair use is in the public's best interest.

On Thursday, U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan gave Google his blessing to continue scanning more than 20 million books. He called Google's digitization efforts "transformative" in enabling the public easier access to knowledge while giving "respectful consideration" to authors' rights. In fact, Chin said that "all society benefits" from Google's program.

The Authors' Guild has argued for years that the book-scanning program violated copyright law and would lead to fewer people buying books. Even though Google only offers snippets of the book through search, the publishers said that people could piece together entire volumes through multiple searches. However, Chin maintained that Google's program amounted to fair use and more or less called that piecing together theory ludicrous. The Authors' Guild plans to appeal.

This ruling arrives over two years after Chin rejected a £77.5 million settlement that would've given Google license to scan the books. While Google doesn't have exclusive rights now, it can enjoy a similar outcome for zero pounds—minus legal fees, of course. [Reuters, Ars Technica]