Google Is Being Sued For $3 Billion For Scanning 20 Million Books Without Permission

Larry Page SadBusiness Insider – by Dylan Love

Google is in a pickle when it comes to books lately – Google Books has cost the company as much as $40 million per year and it’s the object of a lawsuit that may see Google paying out up to $3 billion in damages, according to the AP.

Google’s plan to digitize every book on the planet — 20 million so far — has obviously required making digital copies, and this is exactly where the problem lies. Google didn’t get permission from the Authors Guild before embarking on its quest to clone the book world, so now the company’s all tied in up court in court as the defendant in a copyright infringement case.  

Google’s defense is that it is only making snippets of each book available for free online, as search results, so that readers can’t actually read an entire book for free.

Despite the company’s ask-forgiveness-instead-of-permission approach, Bloomberg has the details on a pre-existing case precedent that could be interpreted to render Google not liable. Last year five universities teamed up to copy their digital libraries and make the whole collection available to each school. They were found not liable for copyright infringement when a judge decided copying the books was fair use.

The key detail that qualified it as fair use is that “the copies serve an entirely different purpose than the original works.” That purpose was “superior search capabilities,” said Judge Harold Baer, who oversaw the case.

The situations are so analogous that Google may not have a worry in the world. What is the company best known for if not offering superior search capabilities?

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