"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Google Book Scanning is Fair Use: 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Decision Supports Reasoning Presented on LawPundit 10 Years Ago

It took the legal system 10 years, but they finally got it right.

Book scanning as done by Google Books, formerly Google Print (now part of Alphabet Inc.) is "fair use" in the eyes of the law according to a decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued yesterday (see Reuters), October 16, 2015, in the case Authors Guild, Inc. v., Google, Inc., Docket No. 13-4829-cv.

The Circuit Court judges on the 2nd Circuit panel for the present decision were:
Pierre N. Leval (note: Harvard Law School graduate)
José A. Cabranes (note: Yale Law School graduate)
Barrington D. Parker (note: Yale Law School graduate)
Judge Leval wrote the opinion. These are the kinds of significant and correctly decided judicial cases that result when top legal minds are at work.
The .pdf of the court decision is downloadable here via this link.

This Circuit Court decision ends more than 10 years of litigation, whereby the class certification was rightly rejected in 2013 by the 2nd Circuit and the case remanded for consideration of Google's fair use defense, a defense upheld at the District Court level by Judge Denny Chin (sitting by designation) and now upheld at the Circuit Court level by a 3-judge panel.

See generally for reports covering yesterday's decision:
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Our track record in correctly calling the ultimate resolution of important legal issues in the intellectual copyright field is nearly flawless (just look at patents) and, as here, we are usually 10 or more years ahead of actual developments.

That applies not just to legal issues in general but also to our publications about the history of civilization, linguistics, ancient astronomy and archaeology, where our basic conclusions will be substantiated in coming years. We write for the very top echelons, and that is only a handful of people, if they can be found.

As regards the Artists Guild vs. Google, we wrote more than ten years ago in various LawPundit postings as follows:

In Author's Guild v. Google Print (GooglePrint) we quoted Larry Lessig:
"Lawrence Lessig at Lessig Blog comments:

"So too should common sense revolt at the claims of this law suit. I’m an academic, so this is a bit biased, but: Google Print could be the most important contribution to the spread of knowledge since Jefferson dreamed of national libraries. It is an astonishing opportunity to revive our cultural past, and make it accessible."
In Google Print or Library – Who is the "Copier" according to Law?
we wrote inter alia:
"We remain convinced that what Google is doing - or planning to do, by offering snippets of an existing database for its search engine, is permissible transformative use - and thus fair use under § 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act.
In Transformative Use Justifies GooglePrint Scans of Entire Books as Fair Use we concluded inter alia:
"[I]f the judges find against Google Print [now "Google Books"], they basically have to invalidate the entire process of search engine servers storing masses of online copyrighted material, the corpus of which they access in order to provide useful search results in “snippet” form. A decision for the Author’s Guild would simply lead to internet search chaos, and that is not the role of the courts. They have to apply the law sensibly. Hence, we think Google Print will win."
Of course, that is not all. One should read the above postings in full for a complete picture of the applicable legal arguments.

See also our Twenty Key Questions for Author’s Guild v. Google way back when.