U.S. Supreme Court rejects copyright challenge to Google book-scanning project

A group of authors have lost their copyright battle against Google’s massive book-scanning project, as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their case today.

By declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court allows the last ruling to stand, an October 2015 ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, which read “that the project provides a public service without violating intellectual property law.”

In 2004, Google launched their Book Search database and began scanning millions of copyrighted and public domain books. A year later, a group of authors represented by the Authors Guild, launched a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement and loss of income.

Google’s Book Search only shows excerpts from copyrighted books, though it offers full text for titles in the public domain.

Prominent writers such as Margaret Atwood and songwriter Stephen Sondheim publicly supported the case against Google, but were not part of the lawsuit.

Google countered that its search project fell under fair usage laws and instead of taking away income from writers, it would boost their book sales by helping books get discovered during searches.

Google has already scanned more than 25 million books. The company estimates that there are 130 million distinct titles worldwide, and announced ambitious plans to scan all of them.

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