This past Friday the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals defended the fair use claims of Google Books, loudly and proudly. Affirming a 2013 ruling that staked out the same territory, the Circuit Court sided with Google on all counts.
Despite what is now a decade's worth of efforts by author's and publisher's groups to tarnish Google Books as a copyright infringing bogeyman, no court has ever seen it this way. It will take a Supreme Court ruling to finally put this issue to rest.
Bring it on. To date, our judicial branch has been more progressive than our creative class on this front. The author/publisher arguments boil down to the claim that Google needs to obtain explicit permission for each and every book scan of the millions it has made for Google Books. This is impractical, even for a company of Google's size and reach. It is also impossible, as many of the authors who would need to grant such permission are either dead or unreachable.
These proposed remedies are disingenuous at best, cynical and misleading at worst. What the authors and publishers are seeking to do is to destroy the concept of fair use, under the guise of sticking up for the little guy.
Indeed, it has already been problematic that Google is leading this effort. This fact has stoked the rhetorical fire of authors and publishers. Yes, the Library of Congress should have seized this challenge years ago and not ceded the field to Google.
But here we are. The legal issues must remain separable from the fact that Google is leading this effort. The Circuit Court agrees: "Google's profit motivation does not in these circumstances justify denial of fair use" (Page 4 of ruling).
Exactly, and precisely. Hear hear.