Two days ago, on Tuesday, June 10, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York made a major ruling that emphasizes the legality of fair use for book digitization. In Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, a unanimous three-judge panel concluded that digitizing books in order to enhance research and provide access to individuals with print disabilities is lawful on the grounds of fair use (Section 107 of the U.S. copyright law). This is an immense victory for fair use as the basis of a balanced intellectual property system, and we, at Benetech, are delighted by it and by its tremendous positive implications for the public interest.
At their best, IP laws encourage technological advances, reward creativity, and benefit society. Practical and creative innovators need space to operate and ensure those benefits reach the people who desperately need new solutions but are often least able to afford them. To make this possible, we must ensure balance in copyright laws and defend fair use as a laboratory for creativity. With the leverage of technology and the foundation provided by well thought out IP laws, we can inspire both economic growth and social good.