Google Book Scanning Case: 30 Second Summary

Google book scanning caseMuch to publishers’ chagrin, Google launched a digital book service in 2004, which resulted in the Google book scanning case. The literary legal battle gave way to a seminal Internet law ruling regarding digitization and online copyright.

What is Google Books?

Google scans books using optical character recognition and uploads contents to its servers. Users can then search the database for certain terms. The service is free to the public – which, of course, has caused consternation among authors, publishers, and distributors.

Google Book Scanning Case: A Copyright Battle Between The Search Engine And Publishers

In many cases, author or publisher consent is required before a work appears in the database.

But not always.

In 2005, the Authors Guild of America and the Association of American Publishers dragged Google into court, for copyright infringement, for what would become known as the Google book scanning case.  During litigation, Google adamantly argued it only scanned full texts when the work was out of print. The plaintiffs insisted that the practice violated U.S. copyright law.

Who Won?

The judge ruled that Google was staying well within fair use boundaries by digitizing out-of-print works.


Kelly / Warner is an Internet law firm that handles all manners of online copyright issues. To learn more about our firm, click here.

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