On Monday, the US Supreme Court on Monday decided not to hear a challenge from the Authors Guild and other prominent writers who claimed that Google’s digital scanning of their work was in effect a mass copyright issue and intrinsically unfair.


In a brief written explanation, the current justices decreed that the appeal would not be followed up on. The order concludes an 11-year battle between the tech giant and the publishing industry.

The disagreement between the two groups centers around the outcome of a decision made by the the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals last June that stated that it was legal to scan books if you don’t own the copyright.

The Authors Guild originally sued Google back in the early 2000s claiming that Google’s policy of showing search results from digitally scanned books infringed on publishers copyrights, even though the search results only showed snippets of the works.

The guild had argued that Google Books provided a free substitute for their work, and that the revenue Google earned from ancillary advertising affected them negatively in financial returns.

If Google had lost, they would probably have been facing billions of dollars in damages claims from authors.

Not all the publications scanned by Google are in question however. Books that are no longer under copyright restrictions are free in their entirety. This however does not affect the millions of more recent titles that are still under copyright protection.

The Supreme Court did not accept that Google’s book scanning undermined the ability of authors to earn money from their work.

The writers guild said in a statement Monday, that the lost appeal was a “colossal” loss.

Google has scanned more than 20 million books since 2004 when it struck an agreement with several big research libraries to digitally copy their collections.