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Second Circuit Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Fair Use in Authors Guild v. HathiTrust

Today (June 10) was another landmark day for Fair Use interpretations.  The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled on Authors Guild v. HathiTrust and found in favor of fair use.

The Library Copyright Alliance filed an amicus brief in the case, supporting HathiTrust’s position and the lower court’s finding of fair use.  Jonathan Band, counsel for the Library Copyright Alliance, said, “The decision is a significant victory for the public.”

The HathiTrust Digital Library (HDL)—comprised of eighty college, university and nonprofit member institutions at the time of the court filings—contains digital copies of more than ten million works and engages in several projects that provide new value and use to copyrighted works. These projects include the creation of a full-text search database, facilitation of access to works for the visually impaired and print disabled, and preservation of works in its library.

The HathiTrust Digital Library offers a scholarly online archive that may be searched for full book text.  The pages of an 1895 edition of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, for example, are freely viewable with an etching by H. Macbeth-Raeburn and a map of Wessex. HDL provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in-copyright content (some restricted) from a variety of sources, including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institutions.  Those partner institutions include the libraries of Harvard, Princeton, The University of California, and smaller liberal arts colleges such as Colby and Mount Holyoke.

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