The Google Books decision: what it is and why it is important for libraries
In an EIFL webinar, guest speaker Jonathan Band examined the background to the recently decided Google Books case, the key facts and what the judge’s ruling means for libraries in the US and beyond

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Mr Jonathan Band J.D was a guest speaker at an EIFL webinar on 24 November 2015 on the Google Books decision, what it is and why it is important for libraries.

The presentation examined the background to the Google Books case that began over a decade ago in 2004, as well as the important Hathi Trust case from 2014, setting the scene in many ways for the decision on 16 October 2015 of Judge Pierre Leval that the Google Books Project does not infringe US copyright law.

As well as being a big step forward in fair use law in the US, the Google Books decision gives the green light to library digitization projects for purposes such as access to persons with disabilities, preservation and indexing (noting that conditions of use, such as access to snippets or full text, will differ from case to case).

For libraries in other countries, the Google Books decision means that the snippets of text are viewable globally. While it does not create a legal precedent in countries that do not have fair use in their copyright law, the case does provide a basis for library advocacy to adopt fair use, and the benefit it brings to accessing in-copyright content for education, scholarship and discovery. It may also encourage other countries to undertake national digitization projects.

The webinar was attended by 34 participants from 10 countries - Albania, Armenia, Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Palestine, and the US.

Questions included whether different critieria for public domain material in different countries impact what is viewable globally in Google books, whether the decision is considered final in the US, how EU countries that don't have fair use can make electronic accessible format copies for persons with disabilities.

A big thank you to Jonathan Band for participating in the Google Books webinar, and explaining the 'litigation family tree'.

Download the webinar slides or instantpresenter view the webinar recording.

Recommended reading, listening and viewing

Google Books Litigation Family Tree (pdf) 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).

Background on the Google Books decision.