ACE submitted a brief this week to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the case Authors Guild v. HathiTrust Digital Library, in which the Authors Guild is charging that the digital repository is violating copyright by making some of its members’ work freely available.
HathiTrust is a partnership of more than 60 major research institutions and libraries that have collaborated to digitize their collections to build a comprehensive online archive.
In addition to creating an unprecedented resource for scholarly research, one of the goals is to enable the digital archive to be accessible to persons who have print disabilities. The university libraries (University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin System, Indiana University, University of California and Cornell University are the HathiTrust institutions involved) have digitized their collections for preservation, searching and use by the visually impaired.
The Authors Guild appealed after the HathiTrust institutions were successful in the lower court. The consensus of higher education copyright experts is that this is a crucial case for the future of distance learning and the digital age in education. According to ACE General Counsel Ada Meloy, a reversal would be a serious defeat for the doctrine of fair use and the advancement of technology in higher education.
Also signing the brief were the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and EDUCAUSE.