"Transforming" Fair Use: Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google, Inc.

May 21, 2014

Since the 1980s, the outcome of the fair use defense to copyright has appeared to turn on whether the secondary use provided the infringer with any commercial benefit. However, recent cases suggest that the commerciality inquiry is no longer controlling. In November of 2013, Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google, Inc. authorized Google Books to use over 20 million books without the permission of the authors. Authors Guild opens the door for a new application of the fair use doctrine to alleged copyright infringement by Internet businesses and services. This Recent Development argues that in cases involving widespread digital use of copyrighted print materials, the transformative nature of the secondary use, rather than commercial benefit, plays a pivotal role in the evaluation of the fair use factors.