Google wins digital library legal battle

Open book

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Google has defeated a legal action mounted to stop it scanning and uploading millions of books.

In 2005, the US Authors Guild sued Google alleging that its plans to create a digital library amounted to massive copyright infringement.

In its defence, Google said its plans constituted "fair use" because it was only putting excerpts of texts online.

US judge Denny Chin has now sided with Google and dismissed the case brought by the Guild.

Long fight

Judge Chin accepted Google's argument that its scanning project was "fair use" adding that the project provides "significant public benefits".

The decision could be a significant milestone for the long-running legal battle between Google, the Authors Guild and US publishers. Both the publishers and authors started legal action over the scanning project in 2005.

Initially, authors and publishers negotiated with Google together. This led to a settlement agreement in 2008 that would have involved Google paying $125m (£78m) into a fund that would be used to compensate the writers of copyrighted works that appeared in the online library. The agreement also placed restrictions on how much of a book Google could make searchable.

In March 2011, the settlement agreement was thrown out by a US court which said it gave Google a "de facto monopoly" to copy books.

This led US publishers to negotiate separately and they reached an agreement with Google in October 2012. Financial terms of that deal have not been released.

The latest decision denies the copyright claim brought by US authors. Neither Google nor the Authors Guild have commented on the decision.

In April 2013, Google said it had scanned more than 30 million works ready for inclusion in its digital library.

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