Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright, Fair Use
  • Date Filed: 11-14-2013
  • Case #: No. 05 Civ. 8136(DC)
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States District Court, S.D. New York
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162198
  • Westlaw Citation: 2013 WL 6017130
  • Full Text Opinion

Fair use was found when Google digitally reproduced millions of copyrighted books, allowed library project partners to download copies of books, and made snippets of the digital reproductions available to computer searches.

Opinion (Chin): Under its Library Project, Google, Inc. ("Google") digitally scans books in the collections of a number of libraries that are members of the project. These books are then stored on Google’s servers and back-up tapes and "snippets" of them are displayed in searches by internet users. The libraries are allowed to download digital copies of books scanned from their collections. Many of these books are copyrighted. Google did not obtain permission from the copyright owners, and thus plaintiffs Author's Guild, Inc. ("Author's Guild") established a prima facie case of copyright infringement. Google argued a fair use exception, the doctrine of which permits fair use "to fulfill copyright's very purpose, [t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." In finding fair use, the court found that Google transformed the copyrighted works from expressive text into "a comprehensive word index that helps readers, scholars... find books." It also transformed the book text into mineable data, opening up new fields of research. Additionally, the Library Project enhanced the sales of the books by providing a way for authors' works to be discovered by potential readers. Considering these factors along with the substantial usefulness of the Library Project as a research tool, the court found that the Library Project constituted fair use. The court GRANTED Google's motion for summary judgment.

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