Google's Book-Scanning Project Is Legal, Says U.S. Appeals Court

Copying and digitizing millions of books did not violate copyright law

Google Books

Flickr / KTH Biblioteket

In December 2004, Google began digitally scanning books from five major research libraries in an effort to make the content searchable and easily disoverable to new readers. The project was controversial among some educators and authors who accused Google of violating copyright law (though it's worth noting that Popular Science embraced the project and partnered with Google to make all of our archives available as digital scans here).

Today, more than ten years after a group of authors sued Google for the book-scanning project, a U.S. appeals court ruled that Google's book-scanning project did not violate copyright law. The judges rejected an appeal from a collection of authors who claimed that the scanning project deprived them of revenue.

In the case, Google's legal team argued that scanning books and making them searchable actually boosted sales. Google's legal team said that it made it easier for readers to find specific books and also made it easier to discover new books .

Here is a brief snippet of the decision written by Justice Pierre Leval:

Google’s making of a digital copy to provide a search function is a transformative use, which augments public knowledge by making available information about Plaintiffs’ books without providing the public with a substantial substitute for matter protected by the Plaintiffs’ copyright interests in the original works or derivatives of them.

To read the full decision, click here. \