HathiTrust statement on Authors Guild v. HathiTrust ruling

“On 10 October 2012, Judge Harold Baer, Jr. of the U.S. Southern District of New York court ruled in our favour on Authors Guild, Inc. et al. v. HathiTrust et al. We are pleased that the court has recognized the importance of the work that libraries are performing to preserve the scholarly record and provide information and services to communities of scholars. We continue to believe that digitization and preservation of the scholarly record provides important benefits to current and future scholarship.

“Judge Baer’s statement in this ruling reflects our collective ongoing commitment to lawful uses of our digital library collection, a collection created from our many great print collections and the work of generations of librarians: ‘I cannot imagine a definition of fair use that would not encompass the transformative uses made by Defendants’ MDP [Mass Digitization Project] and would require that I terminate this invaluable contribution to the progress of science and cultivation of the arts that at the same time effectuates the ideals espoused by the ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act].’

“We thank the many institutions and scholars who have supported us in this case. We will continue to invest in HathiTrust, and in our mission to contribute to the common good by collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.”

HathiTrust is a large-scale collaborative repository of digital content from research libraries including content digitized via the Google Books project and Internet Archive digitization initiatives, as well as content digitized locally by libraries. As of November 2012, HathiTrust comprises over 10.5 million volumes, over 3.2 million of which are public domain.

In September 2011, the Authors Guild sued HathiTrust (Authors Guild v. HathiTrust), citing massive copyright violation. A federal court ruled against the Authors Guild in October 2012, finding that HathiTrust’s use of books scanned by Google was fair use under US law.[2]

Support for the Authors Guild v. HathiTrust Decision has been widespread.  The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) welcomed Judge Harold Baer’s decision. “Judge Baer’s ruling not only allows HathiTrust to continue serving scholars and the print disabled, it also provides helpful guidance on how future library services can comply with copyright law.” However, the LCA on 9 November announced its disappointment that the Author’s Guild is appealing Judge Baer’s landmark opinion.

For more on this case, visit Judge Baer’s decision (PDF), First LCA amicus brief (PDF) and Second LCA amicus brief (PDF) on the ARLwebsite,  http://www.arl.org/pp/ppcopyright/orphan/agvhathi/index.shtml.

(ACCESS 83, December 2012)