Google won't face Supreme Court fight over book scanning

The highest court in the US won't hear an appeal of Google's victory in a feud over book scanning.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

After many years, Google's efforts to scan out-of-print books for online searching is officially in the clear. The US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal over Google's victory in a legal dispute wit the Authors Guild, effectively determining once and for all that the book scanning (which focused on excerpts) represents fair use rights. The Guild had contended that Google's move violated copyright and potentially hurt profits, and would have had the internet giant pay damages.

Not surprisingly, the Guild isn't happy with the Supreme Court's choice -- it calls this a "colossal loss" and insists that the appeals court was "blinded" by Google's attempt to portray itself as rescuing lost books for the public good. The statements are a bit melodramatic (many of these titles are unlikely to return to print before they reach the public domain), but they do point out that the concerns over digitizing books aren't quite over. Although Google appears to have walked a fine line, the worry is that other outfits might not be quite so scrupulous.

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