EIFL webinar: The Google Books decision - what it is and why it is important for libraries
Guest speaker Jonathan Band examines the background to the recently decided Google Books case, the key facts and what the judge’s ruling means for libraries

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Event Date: 24 Nov 2015

On 16 October 2015, after more than a decade of litigation, libraries in the US welcomed a US appeal court ruling that the Google Books Project in the US is legal. In this webinar, we will examine the background, developments of the case, and what the outcome means for libraries in the US, and beyond.


Google works with over 40 libraries around the world to digitize their collections and make them available to users. The aim of the Google Books Project is “to make it easier for people to find relevant books – specifically, books they wouldn't find any other way such as those that are out of print – while carefully respecting authors' and publishers' copyrights”.

Thus books determined to be in the public domain are scanned and made available in full text for viewing. For books that are in-copyright, national copyright rules are applied to decide what may be digitized and how much of the material may be made available. So in the UK, for example, out-of-copyright holdings of Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries are scanned, in particular material from the 19th century.

In the US, the fair use doctrine, an open-ended limitation to the exclusive rights granted to copyright holders, was used to scan millions of books, including those still in copyright. Users can search the database of books for keywords. The results include bibliographic information, such as titles and page numbers plus 'snippets' of text - a few sentences to display the search term in context. There are links to libraries where the book can be borrowed, and to online bookstores where the book is available to purchase.

In 2005, five publishers and the Authors Guild sued Google for copyright infringement. In October 2015, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, that covers the states of Connecticut, New York and Vermont, ruled that the Google Books Project is a fair use. The Authors’ Guild has indicated that it may appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court.

What will the webinar cover?

The webinar will examine the background to the Google Books case, the key facts of the case, and the reasons for the judgement that led Judge Pierre Leval, a well-respected authority on copyright, to conclude that the Google Books Project in the US does not infringe copyright. Librarians in the US praised the judgment that strongly supports fair use principles. The webinar will also discuss what the result means for libraries in the US, and for libraries beyond (if anything).

The guest speaker is Mr Jonathan Band J.D.

The webinar will be recorded for later viewing online.

Recommended reading, listening and viewing:
Google Books Litigation Family Tree from the US Library Copyright Alliance.
Fourth Annual Peter A. Jaszi Distinguished Lecture on Intellectual Property with Judge Pierre N. Leval, November 12 2015 (webcast).
Fair Use in Authors Guild v. Google, Inc. (podcast). Legal Talk Network (includes Prof. Kenneth D. Crews).

Registration information

Date: Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Time:  UTC 2pm (9am Washington DC / 2pm Dublin / 2pm Dakar / 3pm Warsaw / 4pm Vilnius / 8pm Bishkek).

Check the time in your country by going here and comparing UTC to your time with your city/country time. The session will last for one hour, including time for questions.

Who may participate

The session is open to librarians in any country. If the webinar is oversubscribed, preference will be given to librarians in EIFL partner countries.

How to register

Please email teresa.hackett [at] eifl.net with the following details:

Your name:

Your job title:

Your institution:

Your country:

Is your institution a member of an EIFL partner consortium?

How the webinar works

We will use Instant Presenter to connect. All you need is a computer with a browser and internet access. To check that your browser will successfully access the session, please go to instantpresenter.