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.
Today, December 10th, we’re delighted to join the Silicon Valley United Nations Association in observance of Human Rights Day, which marks this year the 65th anniversary of the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Tonight, at 6pm, at the Calabazas Branch Library, I’ll be giving a talk for the Silicon Valley United Nations Association about some of the ways in which we at Benetech are working on human rights issues globally and in support of the United Nations. I cannot imagine a more fitting group or day to speak about this subject!
Our new Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action is to increase service and expand the number of accessible books for people who are blind in India through Bookshare International, an initiative of our Global Literacy Program. We are embarking on this project with the support of a generous grant from the Lavelle Fund for the Blind. As the General Manager for our Global Literacy Program, I’d like to tell you a bit more about the work this grant will make possible, the lasting impact it allows us to make and why this project advances CGI’s mission of creating and implementing original solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
Here in the United States, our Bookshare initiative is having a tremendous impact, especially on the lives of students. We now provide over 200,000 accessible books to more than a quarter-million people who are blind, dyslexic or have other print disabilities. And yet, while we’ve made significant progress in the U.S., we’ve only scratched the surface of meeting the global need. The sad truth is that there are millions of people with print disabilities around the world that continue to be left behind.