Google Library Project: Is Digitization for Purposes of Online Indexing Fair Use Under Copyright Law? [July 6, 2009] [open pdf - 181KB]
"Authors and publishers sued Google Inc. in 2005, shortly after Google announced plans to digitize books in the collections of several major libraries, index them in its search engine (http://www.google.com), and allow searchers to view 'snippets' of the digitized books. Google's proposed reproduction and display of copyrighted books was not authorized by the rights holders, who alleged that the Google Library Project infringed their copyrights. Google's counterarguments--that allowing rights holders to 'opt out' of having their books digitized or indexed kept its proposed uses from being infringing, or that, if found to be infringing, its proposed uses were fair--raised important questions about reproduction and fair use under copyright law. Namely, does an entity engaged in unauthorized digitization and indexing avoid committing copyright infringement by offering rights holders the opportunity to request removal or exclusion of their content? And, assuming unauthorized indexing and display of 'snippets' are fair uses, can digitization claim to be a fair use on the grounds that apparently 'prima facie' infringing activities that facilitate legitimate uses are fair uses? The proposed settlement agreement between Google and rights holders could mean that litigation over the Library Project does not help to answer these questions. However, final court approval of the settlement is still pending, and future digitization and indexing projects may raise similar questions. This report provides background on the Library Project, legal issues raised by digitization and indexing projects, and the proposed settlement. It will be updated as developments warrant."
CRS Report for Congress, R40194
U.S. Dept. of State, Foreign Press Centers: http://www.fpc.state.gov/