Ars Technica reports that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on the HathiTrust case, the legal sibling to the Google Books lawsuit. HathiTrust is the organization of university libraries that provided books to Google for scanning purposes in return for receiving copies for themselves. A Federal judge ruled HathiTrust to be fair use in October, 2012, and now the appeals court has upheld that ruling (PDF).

The court found that, in scanning the books but not making their full text available (save to handicapped users, who have a special exemption under copyright law), the libraries were facilitating the services they provide to the public and backing up their media against loss. It also echoes the Google Books ruling in that scanning the entire text for search purposes is considered a fair use that does not have a negative effect upon the market for the original work.

This is a fairly noteworthy decision, given that it’s the same appeals court that will be deciding the Google Books case, which was also ruled fair use after prompting by that very same appeals court. It seems likely that the Authors Guild, the plaintiff in both cases, should be ready for another loss there, too. Will they take it all the way to the Supreme Court? Should be interesting to find out.

Techdirt has another pretty good in-depth analysis.


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