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Authors Guild Inc., et al v. Google Inc. (The Google Books case)

By Michael Cataliotti

"Fair Use" is arguably one of the most powerful aspects of the U.S. Copyright Act of '76, as it has been a fundamental basis to argue that, even though permission to use the original work was never obtained, the owner's rights have not been infringed upon. While fair use is generally accepted as proper when utilized by scholarly individuals and entities, the question of whether a clearly for-profit entity has the right to argue fair use is one that has not been as hotly contested as it has in light of Google's "Google Books", a digital gateway of works of authorship made available to the public either through a few sentences or in sum. Of particular concern to The Authors Guild was Google's use of any portion of those works for which authorization had not been obtained. Additionally, The Authors Guild appeared concerned with the fact that Google could be profiting from this venture without remitting any form of royalties to copyright owners.

Despite Google not obtaining permission to reprint certain works online for public consumption, after weighing the elements of fair use, it was the opinion of Judge Denny Chin that "Google Books provides significant public benefits", and went on in great detail to explain why this is so. Ultimately, the decision holds firmly that Google Books does not in fact infringe upon an author's rights. Though some may see this as detrimental all around, a quick search of the decision demonstrates that the world at large appears to favor this decision in order to reinvigorate public interest in works that would never otherwise see the light of day. Time will tell whether Google Books's virtuousness will be eroded in favor of profits causing a hindrance to writers, but in the meantime, it appears that relatively unknown works can be enjoyed or brought to life once again. While doing so, we must wait for the appeal that is inevitable to be filed and see how this situation will progress.

The decision: JudgeChinSJdecision-c.pdf



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