Google has recently won a significant ruling in the courts over its project to scan and index all the world’s books which will, in turn, allow it to display small extracts of text in response to search queries. This will likely have more widespread implications in the world of intellectual property in the online environment.
A New York court has ruled that the search giant’s display of excerpts from books was protected by legal provisions that allow limited the use of copyrighted material. The project, which was conceived by Google co-founder Larry Page, has apparently led so far to the digitisation of more than 20 million books. The project has become a focal point for content industry complaints that Google was seeking to profit unfairly from other people’s intellectual property.
The case was brought by the US Authors’ Guild on behalf of its members. Lawyers for the Authors’ Guild had argued that if internet users are able to search for excerpts of books, they will be less likely to buy the complete works. However the judge agreed instead with Google’s argument (which, interestingly, was supported by the American Libraries Association) that readers would be highly unlikely to be able to assemble enough excerpts through internet searches to replicate a book purchase.
The judge ruled that “all society benefits” from the book scanning and that Google this project would instead be likely to help the book industry.
Another victory for Google whose influence over the world’s content continues to go from strength to strength.