Google wins again. For the past ten years, Google has battled authors and publishers over the right to make snippets of books searchable on its massive search engine. On Friday, October 16, the 2nd United States Circuit Court of Appeals in New York unanimously agreed with Google in their ruling.
In essence, it is legal under copyright law for Google to scan millions of books and make snippets of them searchable online.
What does that mean for us?
The Authors Guild and several individual authors sued Google back in 2005, arguing that Google’s tactics took revenues away from authors. After a decade, it appears that Google won again. Back in 2013, the lower court dismissed the law suit, prompting the appeal more recently.
Circuit Judge Pierre Leval wrote in the ruling, “Google’s division of the page into tiny snippets is designed to show the searcher just enough context surrounding the searched term to help her evaluate whether the book falls within the scope of her interest (without revealing so much as to threaten the author’s copyright interests),”
Authors Guild Executive Director Mary Rasenberger said she was disappointed that the court was “unable to see the damaging effect that uses such as Google’s will have on an authors’ potential income.”
In a statement, Google said, “Today’s decision underlines what people who use the service tell us: Google Books gives them a useful and easy way to find books they want to read and buy, while at the same time benefiting copyright holders. We’re pleased the court has confirmed that the project is faire use, acting like a card catalog for the digital age.”
Since 2004, Google has scanned more than 20 million books.
What’s your take on this? Does this infringe on your copyright? Are you losing revenue because Google scans your books and uses snippets in search? Is this just a scam to get more revenue for Google?
Unlike Google search, Google Books search does not display ads nor do they earn revenue if you click the link to buy the book. One of the arguments that the Authors Guild makes is that the Google Books project puts the author at risk for a security breach where the book can be stolen and disseminated free of charge.
Hmmm. We’ve never seen that happen before, have we? In this case, the judges ruled that Google’s security measures were good enough to prevent that from happening.
If you are on the side of the Authors Guild, have no fear. Rasenberger has declared that this isn’t over. They will now take the case to the Supreme Court.