[A2k] ADAM LIPTAKAPRIL: Challenge to Google Books Is Declined by Supreme Court

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Mon Apr 18 10:44:16 PDT 2016

Challenge to Google Books Is Declined by Supreme Court


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday refused to revive a challenge to
Google’s digital library of millions of books, turning down an appeal from
authors who said the project amounted to copyright infringement on a mass

The Supreme Court’s brief order left in place an appeals court decision
that the project was a “fair use” of the authors’ work, ending a legal saga
that had lasted more than a decade.

Google in 2004 started building a vast digital library, scanning and
digitizing more than 20 million books from the collections of major
research libraries. Readers can search the resulting database, Google
Books, for keywords or phrases and read some snippets of text.

The Authors Guild and several writers sued Google in 2005, saying the
digital library was a commercial venture that drove down sales of their
work. In their petition seeking Supreme Court review, they said “this case
represents an unprecedented judicial expansion of the fair-use doctrine
that threatens copyright protection in the digital age.”

In its own Supreme Court brief, Google said both readers and writers were
better off thanks to its efforts. “Google Books gives readers a
dramatically new way to find books of interest,” the brief said. “By
formulating their own text queries and reviewing search results, users can
identify, determine the relevance of and locate books they might otherwise
never have found.”

As is their custom, the justices gave no reasons for declining to hear the
case, Authors Guild v. Google Inc., No. 15-849.

Last year, a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of
Appeals for the Second Circuit said that Google’s project was lawful and

“The purpose of the copying is highly transformative, the public display of
text is limited and the revelations do not provide a significant market
substitute for the protected aspects of the originals,” Judge Pierre N.
Leval, an authority on copyright law, wrote for the panel.

Manon Ress, Ph.D.
Knowledge Ecology International, KEI
manon.ress at keionline.org, tel.: +1 202 332 2670

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