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UPDATE 1-Google prevails over authors in book-scanning U.S. lawsuit

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 | 10:41 AM ET

* Judge accepts Google's "fair use" defense

* Authors claimed digitizing books violated copyright law

* Google has scanned more than 20 million books

(Adds details from decision, comments from judge)

NEW YORK, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Google Inc on Thursday won dismissal of a lawsuit by authors who accused the Web search and media group of digitally copying millions of books for an online library without permission.

U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan accepted Google's argument that its scanning of more than 20 million books, and making "snippets" of text available for online searches, constituted "fair use" under U.S. copyright law.

The judge said the massive library makes it easier for students, teachers, researchers and the public to find books, while maintaining "respectful consideration" for authors' rights. He also said the digitization was "transformative," and could be expected to boost rather than reduce book sales.

"In my view, Google Books provide significant public benefits," Chin wrote. "Indeed, all society benefits."

The decision on Thursday is a turning point for litigation that began in 2005, when authors and publishers sued Google over its digital books plan.

Google had estimated that it could owe more than $3 billion if the Authors Guild, an association of authors that demanded $750 for each scanned book, prevailed.

Michael Boni, a partner at Boni & Zack, the law firm representing authors, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Google did not immediately respond to a similar request.

In March 2011, Chin rejected a $125 million settlement, saying it raised copyright and antitrust issues by giving Google a "de facto monopoly" to copy books en masse.

The publishers eventually settled in October 2012.

In July, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that Chin had prematurely certified a class of authors without first evaluating the fair use defense.

Chin oversaw the case as a trial judge, and kept jurisdiction after joining the 2nd Circuit.

The case is Authors Guild Inc et al v. Google Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 05-08136.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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