NEW YORK — The creation of a full-text searchable database of millions of books is a fair use of copyrighted works, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, saying it also is permissible to distribute the booksin alternative forms to people with disabilities.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision came in a lawsuit brought by authors and several authors’ groups after several research universities agreed in 2004 to let Google Inc. electronically scan their books and then created a repository for more than 10 million books published over many centuries and written in numerous languages.
In a decision written by Circuit Judge Barrington Parker, the three-judge panel said it concluded that the creation of a full-text searchable database was a “quintessentially transformative use” of a copyrighted work, a legal principle necessary to be established before the court could find that it was lawful to copy and store thebooks electronically without the permission of the authors and publishers.
“There is no evidence that the authors write with the purpose of enabling text searches of their books,” Parker wrote. He added that enabling the full-text search “adds to the original something new with a different purpose and a different character.”