Last week on November 14, the District Court for the Southern District of New York, in a decision of great interest to many “Google Book Search” users, granted summary judgment in favor of Google, clearing the path for it to continue providing the public with snippets of copyrighted books.  In 2005, copyright holders of books scanned by Google for its Library Project and found in snippet form online filed a class action lawsuit alleging copyright infringement by Google based on its unauthorized distribution and display of copyrighted works.  The sole issue before the Court was Google’s fair use defense, and emphasizing the transformative nature and practical benefits of Google’s use, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Google.  First, comparing snippets to thumbnail images, the Court found that Google had transformed the purpose of books—“us[ing] snippets of text to act as pointers directing users to a broad selection of books.”  Further, Google Books had transformed book text into data, opening the door to new research opportunities.  In general, by digitizing books the Court found that Google had created a new tool for finding and identifying books as well as a tool for substantive research.  While the Court acknowledged Google’s status as a for-profit entity, this fact was tempered since Google did not directly commercialize the copyrighted works by selling its scans or snippets or by running ads on the About the Book pages that contain snippets.  Looking to the other three fair use factors, the Court determined that the nature of the copyrighted work and the effect of use upon potential market or value both favored a finding of fair use while the amount and substantiality of portion used weighed slightly against a finding of fair use.  On balance three of the four factors favored a finding of fair use, and, keeping the ultimate goals of intellectual property law in mind, the Court ultimately concluded that Google Books “advance[d] the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders.”