Courtesy of Publishers Weekly…

In a major ruling, Federal judge Harold Baer this week tossed the Authors Guild case against the HathiTrust. In granting the HathiTrust’s motion for summary judgment, Baer ruled that the scan program was a clear fair use under the copyright law, and in the process dealt a potentially fatal blow to the Authors Guild’s other long-running lawsuit filed against Google over its scanning program.

“Although I recognize that the facts here may on some levels be without precedent, I am convinced that they fall safely within the protection of fair use,” Baer wrote in his opinion, adding that he could not imagine “a definition of fair use” that would compel him to shut down what he called an “invaluable contribution to the progress of science and cultivation of the arts.”

he Authors Guild filed its copyright infringement suit, in September of 2011, a parallel action to its case against Google, alleging that the HathiTrust, a digital preservation effort created by a collective of research libraries, was built with millions of “unauthorized” scans created by Google. Among its arguments, the Guild argued that the program’s mass digitization was unprecedented under fair use; that the HathiTrust exposed authors works to security risks; and that the program deprived authors of a potential licensing market.

In his final analysis, however, Baer rejected each argument, finding that the scanning of books for the purposes of indexing is indeed a transformative act, with Baer acknowledging that copying entire works is after all necessary to offer full-text searching and access to the print disabled. Baer clearly was impressed by the access the project affords to the blind and print disabled (who had intervened in the case via the National Federation for the Blind), citing it often in his opinion and at one point writing that the “unprecedented ability of print-disabled individuals to have an equal opportunity to compete with their sighted peers” was perhaps the “most important” transformative use of the scans.

Read the complete article here: Google Scanning Is Fair Use Says Judge

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