Posted by Sequel on July 2, 2014
Topic: blogs, Copyrights
Tags: Google, Scanning Books
Federal Court Rules Scanning of Library Holdings Falls Within ‘Fair Use’ Exception

In a closely watched case, the Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that the scanning of book contents by libraries for archival and research purposes constitutes a ‘Fair Use’ of those copyrighted materials.

Ruling in Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust, No. 12-4547, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 10803 (2d Cir. Jun. 10, 2014), the justices paved the way for a similar finding in litigation now pending against Google Corp. for funding and managing a similar operation on a wider scale.

The defendants in the case represent a consortium of libraries engaged in a joint project. As of June 2014, there were 80 universities, colleges and other non-profit organizations participating in HathiTrust, and over 10 million works — of various ages, languages and subject matters — available in the digital Library.

One of the primary reasons the court ruled as it did was that it found that the fact that the project makes the text of the works electronically searchable is a “transformative” undertaking. There are special provisions in copyright law protecting uses that add a valuable purpose to the underlying work.

It also noted that search results obtained from the Library’s digital copies would not include any portion of the copyrighted works. Results include only the name of the work, the page number(s) on which a search term appears, and the number of times a search term appears on each page. Interestingly, this differs in the Google case, which is pending in the same court, because Google’s results return snippets of content surrounding the found terms.


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