Month: October 2015

Authors Guild v. Google, Inc.

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THE AUTHORS GUILD, BETTY MILES, JIM BOUTON, JOSEPH GOULDEN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellants,

HERBERT MITGANG, DANIEL HOFFMAN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, PAUL DICKSON, THE MCGRAW-HILL COMPANIES, INC., PEARSON EDUCATION, INC., SIMON & SCHUSTER, INC., ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN PUBLISHERS, INC., CANADIAN STANDARD ASSOCIATION, JOHN WILEY & SONS, INC., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,


GOOGLE, INC., Defendant-Appellee

This copyright dispute tests the boundaries of fair use. Plaintiffs, who are authors of published books under copyright, sued Google, Inc. (“Google”) for copyright infringement in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Chin, J.). They appeal from the grant of summary judgment in Google’s favor. Through its Library Project and its Google Books project, acting without permission of rights holders, Google has made digital copies of tens of millions of books, including Plaintiffs’, that were submitted to it for that purpose by major libraries. Google has scanned the digital copies and established a publicly available search function. An Internet user can use this function to search without charge to determine whether the book contains a specified word or term and also see “snippets” of text containing the searched-for terms. In addition, Google has allowed the participating libraries to download and retain digital copies of the books they submit, under agreements which commit the libraries not to use their digital copies in violation of the copyright laws. These activities of Google are alleged to constitute infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights. Plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief as well as damages. …

… In sum, we conclude that: (1) Google’s unauthorized digitizing of copyright-protected works, creation of a search functionality, and display of snippets from those works are non-infringing fair uses. 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. Google’s commercial nature and profit motivation do not justify denial of fair use. (2) Google’s provision of digitized copies to the libraries that supplied the books, on the understanding that the libraries will use the copies in a manner consistent with the copyright law, also does not constitute infringement. Nor, on this record, is Google a contributory infringer.


The judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.