A lawsuit against a number of universities that participated in Google’s Books project was thrown out by a federal judge on Wednesday. The Authors Guild and various other writers’ guilds claimed the universities committed copyright infringement by scanning books for a repository called the HathiTrust Digial Library.

The trust is a collection of 10 million books, most scanned by Google. The process of the scanning consists of Google scanning the book, providing a digital copy to its library of origin and finally the  library provides that to the trust which acts as a search engine, archive, and tool for the disabled who cannot read the physical copies.

Judge Harold Baer determined because of the nature of the trust, they’re operating under fair use since their work does not inhibit the authors from earning revenue, as the plaintiffs suggested.

In the court document, the judge stated:  ”The use to which the works in the HDL are put is transformative because the copies serve an entirely different purpose than the original works: the purpose is superior search capabilities rather than actual access to copyrighted material.”

This is a huge victory for copyright and fair use advocates, as well as the academic community. It’s a nice step forward for not only data archiving, but for the open access to information as well. It’d be nice to one day wake up and not have institutions being sued for providing the access to knowledge to those who can’t read an actual book. For now though, I’ll just take comfort in the fact that justice prevailed in this particular case.

Article Source: Ars Technica

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