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2nd Circuit Court Rules In Fair Use For Digital Libraries

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The 2nd Circuit ruled has ruled in the “fair Use” doctrine, that a digital library can create a full-text searchable database of copyrighted works and to make those works accessible.  Back in 2008, major universities and libraries partnered with Google to digitize their volumes. The HathiTrust Digital Library enabled more than 80 university and research libraries to store, secure and search their digital collections.  Traditionally, the library normally does not allow users to access digitized books in their entirety. Rather, it helps scholars and others find the copyrighted books at libraries through a database that delivers titles and page numbers via keyword search.

The Authors Guild and publishers had a lawsuit against HathiTrust and the partnering universities in 2011, alleging their distribution of digital copies of millions of copyrighted works infringed its members’ copyrights.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation supported Hathitrust in an amicus brief. A New York federal judge  rejected the Authors Guild’s challenge in October 2012 and commended the Hathitrust library in a opinion that held book digitization to enhance research and access qualifies as “transformative” use.

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