Monday, October 29, 2012

ARL's Webinar on the HathiTrust decision

ARL sponsored this Webinar that featured knowledgeable persons giving their understandings of the background and impact of this landmark decision.  Here are several points and quotes that caught my attention:

  • Daniel F. Goldstein, on the accessibility argument of the case:
    • "Finally, there's a lever here for you in dealing with vendors who sell you digital content, because of the strong statements about the need for equal access and the statements about fair use, you can tell Elsevier, they either need to start making those online journals in an ePub3 format that's accessible, or that if they don't, you as a library are entitled to do so as fair use, to create the accessible copies as fair use."
    • " [the decision] blessed making a digital copy as a fair use if the purpose is for access to persons with print disabilities."
    • Libraries no longer have to wait for a request from a print-disabled student to digitize texts for that purpose.  In addition, libraries can retain the digitized copy even after the student has completed the course or left the university, rather than having to re-create the digitized copy from each student's own copy of the texts.
  • Peter Jaszi, also on accessibility:
    • "...the more a library does to create a systematic and well-thought out program to serve the needs of the print-disabled, the closer it works with the disability services office on campus to those ends, the stronger the position it will be in to assert that it is an authorized entity under section 121." (emphasis original)
  • Jason M. Schultz, on preservation
    • "purpose matters"  "libraries...preserve for another purpose, to make sure we have this cultural heritage, to make sure there are resources for scholars, to make sure we can have access to literature in as many different forms as possible for many different populations..."
    • Essentially, a "dark archive" of items digitized for "preservation" only (without the extended purpose of, say, for future scholarly research) may not be permissible, but that this is not usually the case.  Preservation is almost always for another purpose beyond itself.
  • Future of this decision?  Will it be appealed? Should libraries take action?
    • Jonathon Band - the Author's Guild will seek a settlement to drop any appeals in exchange for not paying HathiTrusts' legal fees (a likely outcome of this decision).
Essentially, it seems that this decision may give libraries more legal foundation to digitize items themselves or support digitization projects for the very purposes behind the HathiTrust and Google Books.

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