Google's Books project, which has indexed millions of titles and made them available online, hasn't always been on completely solid legal footing. After all, Books operates without the permission of authors, which has understandably drawn some ire from copyright holders, not to mention other web giants. Well, a federal ruling handed down today gives strong backing to Google's digitizing efforts: U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by an author group against Google.

In his opinion, Chin ruled that showing excerpts of books in search results falls under fair use, and that Books "advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals." Of course, for writers hoping to get paid for access to their works, this decision will come as a disappointment. But considering how deeply ingrained the Google Books project is by now, the ruling is hardly surprising, either.

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Judge rules against authors in Google Books copyright infringement case