Saturday, June 14, 2014

Authors Guild, Inc. v. Hathi Trust

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling in the case of Authors Guild v. Hathi Trust. See Justia for full text of ALL pleadings including the decision.

See Assn. of Research Libraries' posting here for some partisan explanation and hyperlinks to amicus briefs.

The Authors Guild website does not offer documents, but does have statements.

And the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) offers another point of view, placing the lawsuit in the context of the Google Books project law suits.

The clearest, most succinct summary of the ruling comes from a business lawyer blogger who runs Recording INdustry vs. The People, who posted a report on Friday June 13, 2014, "Second Circuit OKs Scanning Whole Books." He summarizes the background that the Hathi Trust members began scanning books, participating in the Google Book Project (The Trust members are very large research libraries, mostly at large, research universities). The books are owned, in the libraries' collections. The trust began making a searchable database of the full text of the books available to 3 groups of people:

1. The public may search with key word searches. The results come back, showing no text of the works, but only showing the frequency of the words, and page numbers on which the words occur.

2. People with disabilities which prevent them from holding or manipulating books, turning pages may have access to the full text of the books. [note from Betsy: This is a different population than those usually served. Most disability programs are designed for visually impaired readers, and they are well served. Those who cannot hold print books or manage them with their hands have no programs that I know of.]

3. Members of the Hathi Trust (that is, the libraries) could replace lost, stolen or damaged books with a copy made from a digital version, IF they could not purchase a replacement on the market at a "fair" price.

The 3 judge panel ruled that the first two uses by access groups do not violate the copyrights of the Author Guild rightsholders. They ruled that the Authors Guild does not have standing to challenge the 3rd use.

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