Years after a group of authors and publishers sued Google over its massive initiative to make digital copies of library books, the company won a dismissal of the suit. The opinion, handed down by U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan, agrees that the Google Books project is legal under U.S. copyright regulations.
As the Atlantic Wire explained before, Google had to prove that its book scanning project was transformative in nature, and that its benefits were not primarily commercial, in order to stay within the bounds of U.S. copyright law. The court ruled in the company's favor on both points.
The authors and publishers bringing suit against the company argued that Google had to ask permission of the copyright holders before scanning the works. But the project, which allows users to search the full text of 20 million books, does not grant full access to the digital copies of the texts. Thus, Chin wrote, "Google Books does not supersede or supplant books because it is not a tool to be used to read books." The opinion added, "Instead, it 'adds value to the original' and allows for 'the creation of new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandings.'" In short, it is "transformative."