Authors Guild Gives Up Trying To Sue Libraries For Digitally Scanning Book Collection

from the about-time dept

Back in June we wrote about how the Second Circuit appeals court totally demolished the Authors Guild's arguments against a bunch of university libraries for scanning their book collections digitally, in order to enable better searching of the contents. The lawsuit was against Hathitrust, an organization set up to manage the book scanning program for a group of university libraries. In 2012, a district court said that what the libraries/Hathitrust were doing was obviously fair use and the appeals court re-enforced that strongly. The Authors Guild is basically giving up in this case, saying that should the libraries change their practices, it may want to revisit the issue. But for now, it's giving up the case while "reserving" its position.

This is hardly a surprise. However, while it's given up on the Hathitrust case, the case against Google for basically the same thing is still ongoing. And, yes, it's so far lost there as well, though that case is on appeal and was just argued recently -- including making bizarre references to Aaron Swartz as some sort of proof that if Google scans books, someone may hack them and leak all those books to the world.

We'll see how the appeals court rules in that case, but if I had to predict, I doubt this one will turn out well for the Authors Guild. Still, it's likely that the Authors Guild recognizes that if it's going to take one of these cases to the Supreme Court, it has a better shot against Google directly, rather than a bunch of university libraries...

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 3:36pm

    All of this wouldn't be so infuriating if copy protection lengths didn't last for unreasonably long periods of time. After, say, ten years or so everything should be public domain free for anyone to search, stream, download, redistribute, or archive. Too bad this isn't a democracy and a small hand full of corporate interests have managed to buy our laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:57pm

      Re:

      Yes, if the entire last century wasn't locked up by copyright and so much material out of print, I might have a tad more sympathy for their views.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        madasahatter (profile), 11 Jan 2015 @ 11:48am

        Re: Re:

        I have always wondered what the typical sales curve of a book, recording, or movie is. My suspicious is that peaks a few weeks after release with 95% of the sales occurring within about 3 years and 99%+ after 5 or 6 years. Thus, any sales after about 10 years are highly unlikely. Of course the copyright maximalists will point to the few works that are "classics" and still sell decently decades after release claiming, falsely, this it the typical sales behavior.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    john e miller, 9 Jan 2015 @ 6:24pm

    So who is maybe funding the Authors Guild lawsuits?

    According to the IRS 990 filing for the tax-year ending 30 SEP 2013 -- in the middle of the lawsuits against both HathiTrust and Google -- the Authors Guild had non-employee legal expenses of $0. That's zero dollars.

    In their motion for attorneys fess, the Lawyers for the HathiTrust following the District Court ruling requested they be reimbursed for over 1 million dollars. So maybe someone else is picking up the tab on the Authors Guild legal fees.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Divide by Zero (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 9:16pm

    if Google scans books, someone may hack them and leak all those books to the world.

    And if someone prints books someone else might break into the warehouse and give them away willy nilly. Best stay on the safe side and just not publish at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 10 Jan 2015 @ 1:42am

    "if Google scans books, someone may hack them and leak all those books to the world. "

    How long before they realise that if the books aren't available legally for a reasonable sum, this is happening anyway without Google's involvement?

    Plus, I have a book on my coffee table *right now* that was given to me free of charge by a friend and not a penny will make it to the guild or their members for it!

    Seriously, is the real world that difficult to comprehend when you become a greedy asshole?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 11 Jan 2015 @ 9:23am

      Yeah. Me too.

      I have given away books that I was done reading.

      Hardbacks even.

      I can be impatient sometimes and if an author is already a good sport, I might get a book before the paperback is released. I might pass that on for free to another fan afterwards.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Crims0n (profile), 12 Jan 2015 @ 1:58am

    so does this qualify as a medical breaktrough as well ?
    growing a brain IS possible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2015 @ 6:02am

    Good, they needed to give up. The right to a library is one of our most sacred rights in the USA. If only the education industry believed in this we wouldn't have to pay a FORTUNE for knowledge, a concept to discriminate against the lower class to keep them lower class forever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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