Fair use victory for universities-via Wired

Fair use is a defense to copyright infringement and may be invoked for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research, the judge noted. He said the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) also played a major factor.

A federal judge on Wednesday threw out a copyright infringement lawsuit against universities that participated in a massive book-digitization project in conjunction with Google without permission from rights holders.

U.S. District Judge Harold Baer of New York dismissed an infringement lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild and other writers’ guilds, saying the universities had a fair use defense. The guild accused the University of California, University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Cornell University and University of Michigan of wanton copyright infringement for scanning and placing the books into the so-called HathiTrust Digital Library.

Read the rest of the article here.

his decision comes in the wake of the settlement between Google and several large publishers and I count this as a moral victory for libraries and education. Certainly authors (musicians,artists) should get their cut. At the same time, it is important to make content, especially of educational materials, available to scholars. I’m not sure I see the difference between going to a library and reading research material in the library and accessing it virtually. There is also the whole “orphan works” issue.  Wikipedia defines an orphan work thusly:

An orphan work is a copyrighted work for which the copyright owner cannot be contacted. In some cases the name of the creator or copyright owner of an orphan work may be known but other than the name no information can be established.[1] Reasons for a work to be orphan include that the copyright owner is unaware of their ownership or that the copyright owner has died or gone out of business (if a company) and it is not possible to establish to whom ownership of the copyright has passed.

I’m not saying it’s fair for Google to control access to scanned material, but I’m not sure I trust the government to control access to information either.

 

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