Google Books Supported Under Fair Use

By: Colton Warren

After an eight-year battle, Google has struck a monumental win after New York Judge, Denny Chin, ruled their scanning library books for Google Books to be under fair use.

The University of Michigan library is one of the many libraries Google partnered with to scan books since 2004. photo credit Andrew Turner via

The University of Michigan library is one of the many libraries Google has partnered with to scan books since 2004.
photo credit Andrew Turner via

Google began its project scanning millions of library books to build a book database in 2004. A year later, a group of writers, including The Authors Guild sued. The lawsuit alleges Google digitally copied books without permission from publishers and authors, violating copyrights.

Chin ruled that since it does not sell the scans, or “snippets,” Google actually could help sales, getting more eyes on books that may not have been discovered by researchers or customers.

Google Books operates much like Google’s regular search engine site, relying on key words and terms in searches.

Google plans to avoid costing authors sales by only offering portions of books on their page. Chin described Google Books as “highly transformative,” and “provides a new and efficient way for readers and researchers to find books,” according to his 30-page decision released Nov. 14.

“The fact is that Google Books serves several important educational purposes,” the judge explained the project passed the four facets of fair use in his decision.

As a student journalist, Judge Chin’s ruling in favor of Google Books is a big win. Students will be able to see over 20 millions books, some of which are out-of-print at this point. Students and researchers have been granted yet another expendable research engine.

Journalists will be able to take advantage of the “public benefits” Google Books will offer, including advancing arts and sciences, when it comes to researching topics. Books will be easier to view, some of which have been lost in libraries over the years.

How do you see Google Books being useful for journalists and other media outlets? Do you agree with the ruling, citing fair use?


2 responses to “Google Books Supported Under Fair Use

  1. I think that it will be awesome to use Google Books as a student and as a journalist. But I don’t know if I agree with the judge’s ruling. Those books aren’t public property. People aren’t going to pay for a book that they can read online.

  2. I have never used Google Books but it sounds like valuable recourses for students and journalists. If the full book is accessible on Google Books I don’t see how this will help book sales. If only a portion of the book is available then I can see people going out to buy the book to obtain the rest of the text.

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