Google’s massive book-scanning project that makes complete copies of books without an author’s permission is perfectly legal under U.S. copyright law, a federal judge ruled today, deciding an 8-year-old legal battle.

In a 30-page decision (.pdf) Judge Denny Chin of New York ruled that Google’s move to digitize millions of university and commercially available books is on its face a violation of the owners’ copyrights. But Google’s limited use of the work makes the scanning “fair use” under copyright law, Chin ruled.

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