Copyright laws do not give libraries a legal right to make complete copies of books, but as part of the Google Books project, multiple libraries provided more than 20 million books to Google, which Google then scanned and returned with a digital version back to the contributing library. The authors never gave permission for the digital copies to be made.
More than eight years ago, the Authors Guild filed a class action against Google on behalf of thousands of authors, claiming that Google infringed the authors’ copyrights. The Authors Guild recently lost its case based on the fair use doctrine that’s generally reserved for nonprofit use by academic institutions, libraries and the press.
The larger impact for Internet users seems to be that search engines have received a legal blessing to make digital copies of materials owned by others, albeit for limited purposes, in spite of the apparent copyright infringement.