Just this past Monday, April 18, the Supreme Court decided not to take up the case of a long-running lawsuit against Google Books. The court’s decision is a win for Google, bringing an end to a decade-long court battle. The Google Books project makes digital scans of millions of books available to the world. In order to build such an impressive and (of course!) searchable digital library, Google partnered with major libraries, including those of the University of Michigan, Columbia University, and Harvard University, to scan their entire book collections.
Back in 2005, the Authors’ Guild sued Google over its Google Books project. The Authors’ Guild claimed that Google infringed on copyright by its wholescale scanning of complete books, done without the permission of authors or publishers. The lawsuit has taken many twists and turns over the past decade but, again and again, the courts found in favor of Google, declaring Google Books to be both a “fair use” of the texts in question, as well as a transformative use. Google’s book-scanning endeavor is seen as transformative because, for the first time ever, it allows for the full-text searching and text-mining of millions of works. Now that the Supreme Court has declined the Google Books case, Google Books fans can rest easy, knowing that the fate of this revolutionary project no longer stands at the mercy of a judge.