Thursday, June 12, 2014

Appeals Court Rules HathiTrust Fair Use

Law Librarians posted about the recent HathiTrust decision from the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which "upheld the ruling in Authors Guild v.HathiTrust, deciding that providing a full text search database and providing access to works for people with print disabilities is fair use."

The Second Circuit's summary states, in part, "[w]e ... hold that the doctrine of 'fair use' allows [HathiTrust] to create a full‐text searchable database of copyrighted works and to  provide those works in formats accessible to those with disabilities, and that the claims predicated upon the Orphan Works Project are not ripe for adjudication."

As Law Librarians noted, The American Library Association issued a statement on the case:

"Today, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in Authors Guild v.HathiTrust, deciding that providing a full text search database and providing access to works for people with print disabilities is fair use. The court also ruled that the Authors Guild lacked standing, and therefore could not assert infringement claims against the HathiTrust. The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), of which the American Library Association (ALA) is a member, filed an amicus brief in support of the HathiTrust.

This decision affirms that libraries can engage in mass digitization to improve the discovery of works and provide full access to those works to students with print disabilities enrolled at the respective HathiTrust institutions.

The general public can search the database using keywords and locate titles held in 80 member institutions. Full text access to the underlying works is allowed only for students with print disabilities enrolled at the University of Michigan and certified as disabled by a qualified expert. Students with print disabilities are blind or have a handicap that prevents them from reading printed text. Because of the full conversion of the texts to digital format that is accessible, these students can use adaptive technologies, such as text-to-speech, to read."

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