Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust
By Natalie Kim – Edited by Laura Fishwick
Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust, 11-CV-06351-HB (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 10, 2012)
On Wednesday the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted HathiTrust’s motion for summary judgment on the copyright infringement claims, dismissing the claims brought by the Authors Guild. The HathiTrust Digital Library (“HDL”) is a massive, Google-affiliated book-digitization project led by academic institutions such as the University of California and Indiana University; it had scanned and placed books in the HDL without consulting rights holders. The Authors Guild claimed this violated § 106 and § 108, and sought an injunction against further distribution of the works and impoundment of already scanned works.
The district court held that HathiTrust’s digitization constituted fair use. HDL provides full-text search for copyrighted works for which the rights holder has granted permission and for works in the public domain; 73 percent of the trust’s 10 million books are copyrighted. The affiliated universities have been using HDL for full-text searches, preservation, and access for people with certified print disabilities. Four universities also created full-text access for “orphan works,” which are in-copyright works for which the rights holders are unavailable or otherwise unidentifiable. Google has scanned the books for HDL as part of its Google Books project; a separate litigation between the Authors Guild and Google is stalled on appeal.
Publishers Weekly provides an overview of the case. At Laboratorium, James Grimmelmann predicts the Authors Guild has little chance of a successful appeal due to what he views as the clear victory awarded to HathiTrust and print-disabled codefendants.