Federal Judge Rules Against Authors Guild in Hathitrust-Google Book Scanning Case

Posted on October 11, 2012

Publishers Weekly reports that the Authors Guild suffered a stinging defeat in the Google scanning/Hathitrust lawsuit. The Authors Guild alleged that Google was engaging in massive copyright infringement when it scanned millions of books from libraries and colleges. Hathitrust owns the digital archive created by the massive book scanning project. The trust is co-owned by a collective of research libraries, although Google does the scanning and gets a copy of the digital archive.

Federal judge Harold Baer granted the HathiTrust's motion for summary judgment against the Authors Guild. The judge ruled that Google's scanning project fit squarely in the definition of fair use under copyright law. The ruling also hurts the Authors Guild in its companion lawsuit against Google.

The judge said in his opinion: "Although I recognize that the facts here may on some levels be without precedent, I am convinced that they fall safely within the protection of fair use." Judge Baer said that the scanning project is an "invaluable contribution to the progress of science and cultivation of the arts." The judge was especially impressed at the project's progress in making works available for the deaf and the visually impaired. The National Federation for the Blind intervened in the case and filed a brief in support of the scanning project.
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