When Google started scanning tens of millions of books in order to make them available online, authors from across the globe were naturally a little upset. Actually, they were really upset, enough that a group of them sued the company back in 2008 on the grounds that Google was violating copyright laws and was depriving them of money. Unfortunately for them, the 2nd United States Circuit Court of Appeals in New York didn’t agree, and declared earlier this week that Google Books is a perfectly legal project that meets “fair use” rules.
A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday that Google’s massive effort to scan millions of books for an online library does not violate copyright law, rejecting claims from a group of authors that the project illegally deprives them of revenue. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected infringement claims from the Authors Guild and several individual writers, and found that the project provides a public service without violating intellectual property law. The authors sued Google, whose parent company is now named Alphabet Inc, in 2005, a year after the project was launched. But Google argued that the effort would actually boost book sales by making it easier for readers to find works, while introducing them to books they might not otherwise have seen. A lawyer for the authors did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Google had said it could face billions of dollars in potential damages if the authors prevailed. Circuit Judge Denny Chin, who oversaw the case at the lower court level, dismissed the litigation in 2013, prompting the authors’ appeal. Chin found Google’s scanning of tens of millions of books and posting “snippets” online constituted “fair use” under U.S. copyright law.