Thursday, November 14, 2013

Google Books: Scanning is Fair Use per Judge Denny Chin

Judge Denny Chin granted Google's motion for summary judgement today, dismissing the lawsuit by the Authors' Guild against their Google Books project.  Here is the ruling on Scribd.  Judge Chin found that Google's scanning and adding a search function to the print books was "highly transformative" lifting the Google Book Project out of the strictures of copyright into Fair Use.

Judge Chin referred to a number of amicus briefs filed by various library and scholarly groups to recognize the many benefits generated by the book and library projects in his opinion.  From preservation to data mining to increasing access, the Google projects are recognized as providing huge new benefits that were previously not reached by either print or e-book presence.

Judge Chin assumes that the plaintiff has established a prima facie case that Google has violated copyright through the scanning projects.  But because he finds that it falls under Fair Use doctrine

(§107 of  the Copyright Act), the case is dismissed. Because Google Books uses the words in the books for a different purpose - creating snippets for readers to sample, for instance, or to search with , or for datamining, Judge Chin finds Googles use "highly transformative."

Words in books are being used in a way they have not been used before. Google Books as created something new in the use of book text -- the frequency of words and trends in their usage provide substantive information.
     Google Books does not supersede or supplant booksbecause it is not a tool to be used to read books. Instead, it"adds value to the original" and allows for "the creation of new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandings." Leval, Toward a Fair Use Standard, 103 Harv. L. Rev. at 1111. Hence, the use is transformative.
(from Chin,  Author's Guild, et al., v. Google, 05 Civ. 8136 (S.D. N.Y, Nov. 14, 2013) , at pp. 20 - 21). 
 Image is Judge Denny Chin, taken at the time of his confirmation as a federal judge.

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