Friday’s appeals court ruling is significant because it clears the legal
uncertainty that has been hanging over Google for a decade, and also
because it provides more guidance on what qualifies as fair use in a
We were having our own doubts, of course. How could you not? The Google Books project seemed to be letting itself go. Things any librarian would notice: bad scans; faulty metadata; narrowing the scope of public domain; having machines do jobs that should be done (or at least overseen) by humans. They seemed to be restricting and worsening access to cultural content, not expanding and improving it. Maybe we were going in different directions?