Library Copyright Alliance Blasts Authors Guild for Hathitrust Copyright Lawsuit

Posted on September 15, 2011

Today the Library Copyright Aliance issued a statement blasting the Authors Guild and the other plaintiffs that are suing HathiTrust, the University of Michigan and four other universities for copyright infringement in connection with the Google Books scanning project. Here's what the LCA had to say:

We are deeply disappointed by the Authors Guild's decision to file a lawsuit, Authors Guild, Inc. et al. v. HathiTrust et al., against HathiTrust and its research library partners. The case has no merit, and completely disregards the rights of libraries and their users under the law, especially fair use. The HathiTrust and its partners have assembled an unprecedented digital resource that will ensure secure, long-term preservation of nearly 10 million volumes held in member library collections. The majority of these works are not available commercially and will disappear completely if not for library stewardship. We applaud the modest steps HathiTrust and its partners have taken to foster those "orphan" works whose owners have abandoned them to library care.

The HathiTrust adds significant value to library collections in support of teaching, research, and learning, while respecting the law. It is deplorable that eight authors and three special interest groups are trying to dismantle this invaluable resource out of a misplaced fear of the digital future. We are confident the court will not look kindly on this shortsighted and ill-conceived lawsuit. Authors Guild President Scott Turow wrote earlier this year, "I count myself as one of millions of Americans whose life simply would not be the same without the libraries that supported my learning."

It is a shame that the Authors Guild fails to understand what Mr. Turow expressed so well, the vital role that libraries play in our cultural ecosystem.

We love libraries, but the Authors Guild lawsuit isn't about libraries. It is about stopping the University of Michigan and others from allowing free downloads of copyrighted works to all students, staff and others. The university claims the works are "orphans" but the Guild quickly found the author of so-called "orphaned" works in less than 3 minutes using Google. The author's agent was extremely unhappy to hear his client's work (one of which sold one million copies) was about to be given away for free to hundreds of thousands of people across several states on the grounds that it was an "orphan." The author had two of his books made into films, one starring Elvis Presley and one starring Warren Beatty. He's a working writer who lives on his royalties, and has a new book coming out.

The Guild also found so called "lost" works by a Pulitzer Prize winner who left all his literary works to Harvard and by a Professor Emeritus at Stanford.

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