Google won a decisive victory in its book-scanning programme after the US Supreme Court denied an appeal by an authors group that argued it was violating copyright law. The court's decision put an end to an 11-year legal battle that began in 2005 when the Authors Guild sued the tech company for scanning and digitising books without compensation to the copyright holders.

Google's ambitious programme, which began in 2004, was hit by a class action lawsuit by the Authors Guild in 2005. The digital database allows users to search through millions of book titles and even reach passages or selected pages. The Authors Guild claimed that Google was violating the rights of copyright holders.

According to Yahoo! Tech, federal judge Denny Chin, who had the support of an appellate court panel, said the project was "fair use" under copyright law.

"We are grateful that the court has agreed to uphold the decision of the Second Circuit (appeals court) which concluded that Google Books is transformative and consistent with copyright law," Google said in a statement following the decision.

The statement continued: "The product acts like a card catalog for the digital age by giving people a new way to find and buy books while as the same time advancing the interests of authors."

Meanwhile, the Authors Guild released a statement to express its "disappointment" over the Supreme Court's order denying review of the decision. Authors Guild president Roxana Robinson said, "Today authors suffered a colossal loss. We filed the class action lawsuit against Google in September 2005 because, as we stated then, 'Google's taking was a plain and brazen violation of copyright law.' We believed then and we believe now that authors should be compensated when their work is copied for commercial purposes."

The authors group's executive director Mary Rasenberger added: "Blinded by the public benefit argument, the Second Circuit's ruling tells use that Google, not authors deserves to profit from the digitisation of the books."