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Google Books case still unsettled? Inmagic Year in Review 2009

Google's efforts to digitize millions of copyrighted books has been a four-year battle between the Internet behemoth and authors and publishers. But 2009 marked a turning point in the case, which we're revisiting at part of our Year in Review.

The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and several authors and publishers filed a class action lawsuit against Google Books in 2005. Their argument was that Google would violate their copyrights by scanning their works and creating short excerpts without their permission. They claimed it would also monopolize access to information and intellectual properties. Many librarians thought Google would, in effect, take over their role.

But on Nov. 19 of this year, the court granted preliminary approval of an amended settlement, which covers a much smaller group of scanned books. It includes those published in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia, and those registered in the U.S. copyright office. However, questions remain on exactly how Google Books will play out, such as issues surrounding privacy and risk of censorship.

Despite this, Google has made clear that its goals are virtuous. "Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," according to a quote on Google's Web site from Sergey Brin, the company's co-founder and President of Technology. And for now, it appears that's just what's happening. You can now search through the full text of 7 million books using Google Books.

What are your thoughts on the case? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

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