Tuesday, April 19, 2016

From ScotusBlog: Google’s book-copying project survives challenge

The court had to define what the phrase "fair use" means. A majority on the court agreed that it applied to Google's book copying project. The case is Authors Guild v Google.

- Click here for background on the case.

And click here for Campbell v Acuff-Rose Music, Inc, the precedence for it - it involves a rap group's use of "Oh Pretty Woman."

Here is the commentary from ScotusBlog:

- Click here for the post.

A massive book-copying project by Google, giving its customers a chance to search the texts of more than twenty million volumes, survived a broad copyright challenge in the Supreme Court on Monday. With no noted dissents, the Justices voted to leave intact lower courts’ conclusion that what Google is doing with the project amounts to legal “fair use,” even of the volumes protected by exclusive rights.
Justice Elena Kagan, without explaining why, did not take part in the Court’s consideration of an appeal by the Authors Guild, a professional society of writers, joined by three authors whose books were copied: Jim Bouton, Joseph Goulden, and Betty Miles. The case is Authors Guild v. Google, Inc.
The challengers, in their appeal, argued that the lower court decisions awarding Google a summary victory deviated sharply from the traditional view that one who copies a protected creative work can only claim the legal defense of “fair use” if the copying satisfies the four factors that Congress spelled out in federal law.
What happened in this case, the challengers argued, was that lower courts permitted Google to rely upon its claim of “fair use” by inventing a new legal concept — that is, so long as the one who makes copies “transforms” the work into another, culturally useful mode, then it is legal. That, the guild and the authors asserted, “empowers judges to approve any re-use of copyrighted works that those judges deem socially beneficial.”

For more on the subject:

- What is Fair Use?
- U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index.

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