This legal ruling probably will have a major impact for genealogists and an even bigger impact on genealogy publishers. For years, Google has been scanning all sorts of books and publishing them in the popular Google Books service. Books that are out of copyright are available in their entirety while books that are probably protected by copyright laws may be searched but only small snippets of the text are displayed to the user.
Eight years ago, the Authors Guild and others challenged the practice saying that it violated copyright laws. The case worked its way through the courts. Today, a court in New York issued what may be the landmark decision: Google’s limited use meets the definition of “fair use” under copyright law.
You can read the details in an article by David Kravets in Wired.com at http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/11/google-books/.