The Google scanning program also expands access to books, Chin wrote. "Traditionally underserved populations will benefit as they gain knowledge of and access to far more books," he wrote.
"Google Books provides print-disabled individuals with the potential to search for books and read them in a format that is compatible with text enlargement software, text-to-speech screen access software, and Braille devices."
Chin, in 2012, had allowed the Authors Guild class-action lawsuit to move forward against Google, but a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overruled him earlier this year. The appeals court directed Chin to reconsider the merits of Google's fair use defense.
Google didn't ask authors' permission before beginning to scan millions of books, but the company has taken steps to ensure that users of its Books service can only see snippets of books scanned without permission, Chin wrote in his Wednesday ruling. Some publishers and authors have given Google permission to make their complete books available.
Google applauded Chin's decision. "This has been a long road and we are absolutely delighted with today's judgement," the company said in a statement. "As we have long said, Google Books is in compliance with copyright law and acts like a card catalog for the digital age -- giving users the ability to find books to buy or borrow."
The Authors Guild said it is "disappointed" in Chin's decision and plans to appeal.
"This case presents a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court," Paul Aiken, the group's executive director, said in a statement. "Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world's valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of the fair use defense."
*** Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Judge dismisses Authors Guild case against Google Books