On August 1, 2012, members of the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) (the American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries and Association of College and Research Libraries), together with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), filed a friend of the court brief (pdf) in Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., a lawsuit in which authors allege that Google violated copyright by scanning books to create Google Book Search (GBS), a search tool similar to its Internet search engine. The LCA/EFF brief defends GBS as permissible under the doctrine of fair use, a flexible right that allows copying without payment or permission where the public benefit strongly outweighs the harm to individual rightsholders.
The LCA/EFF brief argues the following main points: that Google Book Search is tremendously beneficial to the public, that this public benefit tilts the analysis firmly in favor of fair use, that a legislative “fix” is both unnecessary and unworkable, and that the Authors Guild should not be permitted to shut down Google Book Search after encouraging public reliance on the tool for years.
In addition to these general arguments, the LCA/EFF brief incorporates stories contributed by librarians of all types demonstrating the ways in which GBS is an essential tool for librarians, enables new forms of research, and even benefits authors.
The members of LCA have long had a commitment to supporting libraries’ interest in the Google Book Search settlement agreement. For more, including past guides to understanding the settlement, see the ALA Washington Office GBS blog at http://wo.ala.org/gbs/ and the ARL Google Books resource page at http://www.arl.org/pp/ppcopyright/google/index.shtml.
Associate Director, Office of Government Relations
American Library Association