Lawsuit over HathiTrust Digital Library resolved


The lawsuit brought by the Author’s Guild alleging copyright infringement by U-M and additional HathiTrust institutions came to a formal conclusion on Jan. 6.

Earlier federal district and appeals court rulings upheld the library’s digitization and limited use of the copyrighted works in its collection.

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In the final court filing with the U.S. District Court in New York, parties stipulated that the defendants have and will continue to follow specific procedures required by the Copyright Act when making “replacement copies” of digitized copyrighted works.  

HathiTrust, a partnership of academic and research institutions that holds millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world, enables full-text search over the texts in its collection — including copyrighted works — and unprecedented access for users who have print disabilities.

Over the course of the lawsuit, which began in the fall of 2011, a series of court decisions affirmed that these uses are lawful, non-infringing, and fall within the definition of “fair use,” a codified right to use copyrighted works for certain purposes without the authorization of the copyright holder.

“These rulings remind us that copyright law’s purpose is to promote the progress of knowledge and discovery by balancing the rights of the public and copyright holders,” said HathiTrust Executive Director Mike Furlough.

Furlough also expressed gratitude for the support of many organizations and individuals, and to all of the universities named as defendants for their unwavering commitment to the principles at stake.

Co-defendants were the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University and Cornell University.

HathiTrust, which emerged from a 2006 U-M Library proposal that a consortium of institutions share a repository of their growing digital collections, today encompasses more than 100 partner libraries and a collection of more than 13 million volumes.

Its ongoing work includes major initiatives to promote access to government information, transform how libraries manage print collections, and support large-scale computational research on our collections.  


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