Thursday, 11 October 2012

HathiTrust case decided: "near-complete victory"

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the opinion handed down yesterday in the HathiTrust case: Judge Hands HathiTrust Digital Repository a Win in Fair-Use Case.  In the case, The Authors Guild and other author associations challenged the legality of the HathiTrust digitization program and sued the schools participating in the program, including the University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin and Indiana University.  According to NYU Law professor James Grimmelmann says that the HathiTrust won on every substantive copyright issue:

  •  Section 108 (17 USC 108) on library privileges doesn’t limit the scope of fair use. 
  • A search index and access for the print-disabled are both fair uses. 
  • Search indexing is a transformative use. 
  • The libraries aren’t making commercial uses, even though they partnered with Google to get the scans. 
  • The plaintiffs haven’t proven that HahiTrust is creating any security risks. 
  • There is no market for scanning and print-disabled access, nor is one likely to develop. 
  • UM is required under the ADA to provide equal access to the print-disabled, and is allowed to under Section 121 (17 USC 121) of the Copyright Act. 
Prof. Grimmelmann also comments that "this opinion together with the Georgia State e-reserve opinion and the UCLA streaming-video opinion strike me as a real trend—universities making internal technological uses of copyrighted works are doing quite well in court of late. Something significant in judicial attitudes towards copyright, computers, and education has clicked into place".

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