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Intellectual property: Google wins US case over 'book scanning'

IT giant Google has won a US court case brought by the US Authors Guild, who were attempting to block Google from scanning millions of books for free use on the internet, reports the BBC.

The US Authors Guild started a legal action against Google in 2005 for what it said was a huge infringement of copyright.

Google has scanned more than 30 million books, with the intention to provide excerpts of them for free online. Google says the scanning of the books represents 'fair use'.

The original legal action was brought by the US Authors Guild and US publishers.

The two organisations did agree a settlement with Google in 2008 that saw Google pay $125m into a fund that would then pay authors compensation when their work appeared in the Google library.

Although seeming to settle the dispute, the deal was rejected by a court in 2011, on the basis that it effectively gave Google a monopoly on the scanning and online publication of books.

The result was that Google decided to negotiate a separate agreement with US publishers, concluded in October 2012.

Last week a US judge ruled in favour of Google in the final part of the lawsuit with US Authors Guild, saying that the scanning project had 'significant public benefit'.

Speaking after the decision, Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken said: "We disagree with and are disappointed by the court's decision today."

"This case presents a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court. Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world's valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works," he added.

The US Authors Guild is planning to appeal.