The Second Circuit handed Google another victory in its battle with the Authors Guild, et al., by upholding the District Court’s determination that its book scanning project is fair use. Here is the Court’s own summary of the decision from the end of the opinion:
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 Court relied on its decision in the HathiTrust case for declaring that Google’s scans were transformative. The Court here noted that the libraries did not offer snippet view in local search in comparison to Google. That wasn’t a problem, however, as Google’s snippets were no substitute for a copy of the book. At best a research could determine whether the book would be useful in a research project. That would not be a lost sale necessarily if the researcher rejected using the book in a personal project.
I’m still digesting the opinion and may have more to say about this later. I’ll refer readers to c copy of the opinion on Google Drive as supplied by the Chronicle of Higher Education. I’ll also point to a copy linked in a statement of disappointment in the ruling by the Authors Guild. Note, however, that the Guild links ultimately to copy placed on Google Drive as well (oh the irony). I would also draw your attention to the fact that the link from the Chronicle allows the reader to download the document. The version from the Guild does not offer that option. I’m guessing the Guild is hard-wired in that regard.