Do Authors Still have Copyright in the Digital Age?

How much fair use is allowed till an author's copyright is breached?

The US Supreme Court rules in favour of Google in its long running legal fight with the Authors Guild. The Authors Guild, had claimed that Google breached copyright laws by scanning books without permission but has now lost its appeal to the US Supreme Court. Google began scanning books in 2004, so it could include extracts in a searchable database, and was sued by the Authors Guild in 2005.

Google's database of books lets people search through millions of titles and read passages and selected pages from them. But millions of these books still have copyright. The Authors Guild had argued that the project undermined authors' ability to make money from their work. Google argued that its database was "fair use" of copyright works, saying it was "a card catalogue for the digital age".

Google may have had to pay billions of dollars of damages to authors if it had lost the case. The Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson said: "We believed then and we believe now that authors should be compensated when their work is copied for commercial purposes".

A Google spokeswoman said: "We are grateful that the court has agreed to uphold the decision of the Second Circuit which concluded that Google Books is transformative and consistent with copyright law."


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