On Tuesday, June 10th, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit handed down a decision in Authors Guild v. HathiTrust. The court upheld the lower court’s decision, indicating that the“… HathiTrust’s creation of a searchable, full text database of…works counts as fair use. ” News articles and intellectual property professors are calling it a “win” for HathiTrust and libraries.
The court held that HathiTrust’s creation of a full text searchable database constituted fair use as did making the works available for print disabled patrons. It also held that the Guild lacked “associational standing” to make copyright infringement claims.
The HathiTrust began digitizing books owned by libraries in 2008. According to its website, its mission is to ” …contribute to the common good by collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.” To accomplish this mission, HathiTrust has partnered with many premier U.S. libraries to digitize their collections and create a searchable full text database . HathiTrust has digitized materials that are both in the public domain, i.e. copyright has expired, and that also remain under copyright. To date, HathiTrust has digitized 11,178,761 volumes of which 5,820,071 are book titles. This amounts to 501 terabytes of data or 132 miles of shelf space. Materials can be searched via author, title, subject, ISBN, publisher or full text. Full text viewing is available only for items that are in the public domain.