An eight-year battle on behalf of creators has ended badly. Federal Circuit Court Judge Dennis Chin ruled last week that the mass digitization of library books "provides significant public benefits" and "advances the progress of the arts and sciences." This comes as a shock to the creative world, and apparently opens the flood gates on the mass digitization of creative works, with or without the creator's permission.
"To be honest, it is just shocking to everyone involved in the protection of copyright," commented PPA's CEO David Trust. "Judge Chin's opinion is short-sighted. Creators cannot do what they do best--create--if they are not compensated for it. And when creators no longer create, the public suffers."
The Author's Guild filed suit against Google in 2005 in response to The Google Book Project. The project, launched in 2004, was designed to create a digital collection of printed texts that would be searchable online. Google began sourcing books and other printed media from libraries and universities and later "partnered" with publishers. At no time were the individual authors consulted nor was their permission to make reproductions requested. This was the basis for the suit.
"We disagree with and are disappointed by the court's decision today," Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken said. "Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world's valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of fair use defense."
The Author's Guild plans to appeal.