Judge OKs Google Project to Scan All the World’s Books

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Tim Lee reports that Google has won a big victory for its plan to scan the world’s books and make them accessible via the web. Judge Denny Chin of the Southern District of New York ruled today that Google’s project constituted fair use and therefore wasn’t a copyright violation:

Fair use rulings focus on four factors. Of these, the most important is whether the use of the work is “transformative.” Chin ruled that Google Books passes this test easily.

“Google Books digitizes books and transforms expressive text into a comprehensive word index that helps readers, scholars, researchers, and others find books,” he wrote. “Google Books does not supersede or supplant books because it is not a tool to be used to read books.”

….He rejected authors’ arguments that people could use the search engine to assemble copies of entire books out of the short “snippets” Google displays in search results. Chin noted that this was impossible because Google, anticipating this objection, deliberately excludes about 10 percent of the text in each book from being displayed in search results.

This ruling will be appealed, of course, so this isn’t the end. But it’s a good start.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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