WASHINGTON, April 18 (UPI) -- Google can proceed with developing a searchable online library of book excerpts, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated Monday by declining to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling.
The court offered no explanation for its decision, as is customary. By choosing not to hear the appeal it leaves intact a New York federal appeals court decision that Google's continuing program of scanning excerpts of books, over 20 million since 2004, into a digital catalog meets copyright law's definition of "fair use."
Google has stated its goal is to create a catalog of books, in many languages, that offers readers portions of books so the reader can decide whether to purchase a full copy. It added that the project benefits authors and potential book sales. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed, with Judge Pierre Leval writing, "The project augments public knowledge by making available information about plaintiffs' books" without offering a substitute for the books.
A group of authors, led by the Authors Guild, a writers' organization, countered that the appeals court ruling, "threatens to undermine protection of copyrighted works in the digital age to an extraordinary extent."
The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the challenge effectively closes the case, which began in 2005 when the Authors Guild sued Google, saying the online data-collection project was a commercial venture that could drive down book sales. Google began the program in 2004, partnering with university libraries, with the copying and digitizing of scholarly books.
Authors can opt out of the Google library project by submitting an online form.