It's over. From today's Supreme Court order list (PDF), page 12:
15-849 AUTHORS GUILD, ET AL. V. GOOGLE, INC.
The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of this petition.
Although this is a bare order indeed — not stating any rationale — I strongly suspect that the procedural and standing screwups in this case made a majority of the sitting justices believe that it is not the appropriate case upon which to base a reconsideration of "fair use."
So what that means is that the Google Books program circa 2005 does not violate existing copyrights under the theory (mis)stated in the complaint by the parties making that assertion.
It does not mean, however, that:
- Google, or anyone else, has a right to sell (or "license") copies based the scanning done;
- Changes to the system/use are prospectively approved;
- Making print materials available online without authorization from the rightsholder is inherently a fair use;
Or, indeed, much of anything else.
It means only that this protracted litigation is over.
However, I respectfully suggest that the Clerk of the Court stop issuing final orders using fonts and formatting that look like they came out of a 1970s IBM Selectric... especially regarding the transition of typeset books to the 'net...