Google Wants Book Digitization Suit Dismissed

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Google on Friday asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the company's book digitization project infringes on authors' copyrights.

The search giant argues that its project -- which involves scanning millions of books that are available in libraries, and then displaying snippets of text in search results -- is protected by fair use principles.

"Google’s use of books is fair because it provides vast public benefits without any demonstrated harm," Google argues in a motion for summary judgment filed with U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin, acting as a trial judge in this case.

The company's motion addresses a lawsuit first filed in 2005 by the Authors Guild. That organization, as well as the Association of American Publishers, alleged that Google infringed copyright by digitizing books. Google argues in its 46-page motion that the book digitization initiative "gives people a new and more efficient way to find books
relevant to their interests."

The company adds: "The tool is not a substitute for the books themselves -- readers still must buy a book from a store or borrow it from a library to read it. Rather, Google Books is an important advance on the card-catalogue method of finding books."

The Authors Guild is expected to also file papers arguing for summary judgment against Google on Friday, but they are not yet publicly available.

Google previously reached a settlement with the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers, but Chin scuttled it last year. That deal called for Google to fund a new book rights registry, and sell digital downloads at prices it sets with the registry.

But the deal raised concerns that Google would have a monopoly over so-called “orphan works” -- works under copyright, but whose owners are unknown. The agreement would have protected Google, but not other companies, from copyright infringement liability for publishing those works.

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