The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit handed Google another victory on Friday in a high-profile case about copyright infringement, declaring that its scanning of books as part of the Google Books project constitutes fair use. In its ruling, a unanimous three-judge panel of the court upheld a federal judge’s 2013 ruling against the Authors Guild, which sued the tech giant in 2005.
However, the court noted that individual libraries could “incur liability by negligent mishandling” of copies of books obtained through Google Books, “leaving them unreasonably vulnerable to hacking.” But the court also noted that this was “nothing more than a speculative possibility.”
James Grimmelmann, a professor of law at the University of Maryland at Baltimore who has followed the case, said on Twitter that the ruling represented a resounding victory for Google:
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Aside from that "negligent mishandling" bit, this is an across-the-board vindication of technological fair uses. Big win for Google.
— James Grimmelmann (@grimmelm) October 16, 2015