Google Books Library Project

On 16th October, the US Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit) delivered its judgment confirming that the scanning activities of Google relating to its library project are a fair use of copyright works. The scanning includes images.

The British Copyright Council (of which AOI is a member) asked the Society of Authors, ALCS and the Writers Guild of Great Britain for their comments:-

Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors said: “We are disappointed by this decision and support the comments of the Authors’ Guild. However this decision is very much based on an analysis of the Fair Use provisions of US copyright law. Our own fair dealing provisions are much narrower and it is our view that Google would not be entitled to use snippets in this way under English copyright law.” The comments from the Authors’ Guild can be found here.

Owen Atkinson, Chief Executive of ALCS said: “During the past decade millions of books including hundreds of thousands of UK publications were digitised by Google without permission. What constitutes Fair Use is a complex issue in US law and we support the intention of the Authors Guild to continue its action and seek clarification from the US Supreme Court.”

Bernie Corbett, General Secretary of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, said: “With an appeal to the US Supreme Court, this case will remain in doubt for several more years. In the meantime Google will carry on making available substantial parts of works by many thousands of writers, without permission or payment. It gives a whole new meaning to the Land of the Free.”

A short item on IP Kat by Eleonora Rosati provides a background to the case and summary of the appeal. A more detailed analysis is to follow. Copyhype has also posted about the impact of the decision on the case, Cariou v Prince, in which the District Court rejected the fair use defense by an artist for use of more than 30 photographs taken by Cariou.

12th November 2015

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