Friday, October 16, 2015

Titanic victory for fair use: appeals court says Google's book-scanning is legal;, 10/16/15

Cory Doctorow,; Titanic victory for fair use: appeals court says Google's book-scanning is legal:
"The Second Circuit ruling is remarkable for many reasons. First, the venue: the Second, which incorporates publishing's home base in New York City, is a court that is generally favorable to rightsholders. This isn't the first time the Second has surprised copyright extremists, though: last year, the court ruled that the Hathi Trust's noncommercial/academic book-scanning project was also fair use, making this the second high-profile loss for the Authors Guild in two years.
The Hathi Trust ruling completely freaked out the Authors Guild and copyright maximalists everywhere. The Copyright Office, which is friendly to those interests, was motivated by Hathi to create a bizarre, incoherent proposal to put the Authors Guild in charge of who can use literature in America, giving them the power to collect license payments on behalf of writers who never joined the organization, including anonymous and long-dead writers -- this, of course, would give the Authors Guild more money with which to launch foolish, doomed, high-profile lawsuits.
The Librarian of Congress is retiring after a generation in office and may well be replaced by someone who believes in fair use and user rights and a balanced approach to copyright, and since the Librarian of Congress controls the Copyright Office, the people outraged by Hathi are totally flipping out and calling for the separation of the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office, so that they can continue to have outsized influence over the future of creativity, culture and scholarship in America.
The Google Books ruling will only make this fight more intense. Appointing a new Librarian will be one of Obama's last acts in office, and the Democratic party is deeply riven by internal disputes between the netroots and the big entertainment companies who are its financial backers. The war-rooms of both camps are definitely buzzing this morning."

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