October 12, 2012

Judge rules in favor of HathiTrust's fair use

Excerpted from our Copyright Program Librarian Nancy Sims' October 10 blog post:


The Author's Guild sued Hathi Trust, a collaborative organization of several major research libraries, claiming that the access Hathi was providing to scanned materials (both scanned via the Google Books project and via other projects) was in violation of their members' copyrights.

Today the District Court issued its opinion (full text) in the case, finding that:

  • The fact that libraries have specific enumerated rights to make certain kinds of copies does not mean that they can't call on fair use to make other kinds of copies. (Section 108 does not limit libraries' section 107 rights.)
  • Providing access for users with disabilities is a valued purpose under fair use.
  • Providing digital copies to make analog works accessible to users with disabilities is transformative use.
  • Making copies of an entire work can be transformative fair use when it is for a transformative purpose, such as making the work searchable.
  • Hathi's activities are fair use.

"The enhanced search capabilities that reveal no in-copyright material, the protection of Defendants' fragile books, and, perhaps most importantly, the unprecedented ability of print-disabled individuals to have an equal opportunity to compete with their sighted peers in the ways imagined by the ADA protect the copies made by Defendants as fair use." (p. 21)

My overall initial take: This is really great. Well reasoned, well written, and a great win for libraries, innovation, and accessibility. Judge Baer is, at least with respect to this case, extremely awesome.

The rest of Nancy's post clearly and engagingly explains why the judge's ruling is "A Win for Copyright's Public Interest Purpose."

Posted by stemp003 at October 12, 2012 2:21 PM
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