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Libraries Laud Appeals Court Affirmation That Mass Book Digitization by Google Is ‘Fair Use’

image CC-BY by Shawn Collins

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today ruled in Authors Guild v. Google that Google’s mass digital indexing of books for use in creating a searchable online library constituted a legal “fair use” of copyrighted material rather than an infringement.

Statements by members of the Library Copyright Alliance may be attributed as follows:

Sari Feldman, president, the American Library Association (ALA):

“The Court’s decision today does much more than affirm the critical importance and clear legality of digitally indexing books on a large scale as fair use, hugely important as that is. The ruling’s broader and potentially landmark legacy is that vague fears of speculative harm due to possible copyright infringement cannot and must not be permitted to deprive every sector of our society of the very real and identifiable benefits of fair use and other legal limits on copyright. In other words, the assumption that maximum restriction in copyright is the path to maximum benefit which for too long has animated US copyright policies, laws and treaties has been soundly and rationally rejected.”

Ann Campion Riley, president of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL):

“I join my colleagues in applauding this ruling as it strongly supports fair use principles, allowing scholars and others to discover a wealth of resources. This is a tremendous opportunity for our communities, in particular for students and others with visual disabilities, as Google Book search makes millions of books searchable.”

Larry Alford, president of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL):

“The Association of Research Libraries applauds this victory for fair use regarding the Google Books project, which involved partnerships with many of our libraries. This important project supports the goal of the copyright system to expand knowledge by supporting access for those with print disabilities with the creation of machine-readable digital copies, and by providing a new research tool for users who can, among other uses engage in text-and-data mining to understand in a deeper way the record of human culture and achievement contained in these books that would not otherwise be possible without the large, searchable database created by Google Books.”

View the litigation chronology (PDF) on the Library Copyright Alliance website.

About the Library Copyright Alliance

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) consists of three major library associations—the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries—that collectively represent over 100,000 libraries in the United States, employing over 350,000 librarians and other personnel. An estimated 200 million Americans use these libraries more than two billion times each year. LCA is on the web at http://www.librarycopyrightalliance.org/.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.

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