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Authors’ Guild Sues HathiTrust for Using Unauthorized Scans 2011/09/20

Posted by nydawg in Copyright, Digital Preservation, Intellectual Property, Media.
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A few months ago, Judge Denny Chin put the kibosh on GoogleBooks’ attempt to digitize millions of library books and provide (mostly limited) access to the OCR.  Well, at that time, the good news was that ” HathiTrust, an organization set up to help them archive and distribute digital works” was still doing important work, but now HathiTrust is named as a defendant.  “The suit seeks to block two separate efforts. In the first, the universities have created a pooled digital archive of the contents of their libraries, maintained by the Hathitrust. No one contests that these works remain in copyright, or that the universities have rights to the nondigital forms of these works. What the authors object to is the fact that the digital works are derived from an unauthorized scan, and will be stored in a single archive that is no longer under the control of the university from which the scan was derived. The suit suggests that the security of this archive is also suspect, and may allow the mass release of copyrighted work.

“A separate issue in the suit is an orphaned works project started by the Hathitrust that focuses on some of the works within this archive. The group is attempting to identify out-of-copyright books, and those where the ownership of copyright cannot be established. If attempts to locate and contact any copyright holders fail, and the work is no longer commercially available, the Hathitrust will start providing digital copies to students without restrictions. This has not gone over well. The executive director of the Australian Society of Authors, Angelo Loukakis, stated, “This group of American universities has no authority to decide whether, when or how authors forfeit their copyright protection. These aren’t orphaned books, they’re abducted books.”  Read the Ars Technica article.

And if you’re still confused about the legal issues related to GoogleBooks’ recent problems with copyright infringement with an eye towards orphans, out-of-copyright and copyrighted materials, here’s an excellent multimedia presentation at Harvard by Lawrence Lessig in which he makes the argument  that tigers, as cubs, are extremely cute or to read why he thinks it is a “path to insanity,” check out TechCrunch or his longer “For the Love of Culture” essay in The New Republic.

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