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Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc., 2013

By far, the most compelling copyright issue to emerge in the digital world has been Google’s legal fight to display snippets from copyrighted books for users conducting internet searches. In 2004 Google announced that it planned to fully digitize 20 million copyrighted books so that users could access snippets for reference purposes. The Authors Guild, an organization consisting of thousands of authors took issue with Google’s book project and sued for copyright infringement in the case, Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google, Inc. (as cited in Zimmerman, 2014, p.1).

Many experts in the information science profession feel that the Google book project promoted the principles of library science because it makes books available that would otherwise go unseen by the public eye and this allows users to find material that may greatly benefit their research. It also benefits libraries if legal precedents are set for ongoing and future digitization projects (Zimmerman, 2014). Grogg and Ashmore (2008) write that many libraries began digitization projects long before Google launched their massive book project. Many library administrators were already very familiar with copyright obstacles and funding issues before Google faced these issues.

By 2008 Google had partnered with many prominent libraries who agreed to let Google digitize their printed books. In return, these libraries would receive free digital copies of their own books, but they could not share these digital copies with other libraries unless they were in the public domain . The libraries that have partnered with Google contain some of the best collections in the United States and while some libraries created unique contracts with Google for both in print and out of print books, many administrators chose to digitize works solely in the public domain (Grogg & Ashmore, 2008).

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