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Authors groups lose fight against Google Book Search

New York Federal Judge Denny Chin ruled November 14 that Google’s Book Search project meets the definition of fair use under copyright law, dismissing a class-action lawsuit brought by The Authors Guild and other groups that began in 2005. Chin said that Google’s use of book snippets as a way to facilitate books searches is “transformative”, and that in his view, provides “significant public benefits”, especially to readers, scholars and researchers.

In February 2013, TAA filed an amicus brief in the Google Books case, joining six other writers’ associations in support of a class action certification. In its brief, TAA vigorously disagreed with the contention that Google’s scanning of copyrighted works without the consent of the copyright holders was a fair use: “A decision allowing Google to proceed with impunity undermines the economics of scholarly publishing in a way that imperils the future publication of the most sophisticated works, those that are at the cutting edge of science and literature, but that also enjoy the narrowest markets and thus survive on the thin edge of financial viability.”

The Authors Guild Executive Director Paul Aiken said that they “disagree with and are disappointed by” the court’s decision, and plan to appeal.