September 19, 2011
More HathiTrust Lawsuit News
Here’s a bit more on the Authors Guild suit against the HathiTrust. There is short commentary by Irvin Muchnick criticizing the Guild’s action published in BeyondChron, an alternative paper in the San Francisco area. Muchnick, noted for his championship of the digital rights of freelance writers, calls the Guild’s vision “incoherent” and has this to say:
Librarians and their patrons, as well as individual online users, want access, and that is in the overall public good. The problem is that, at this moment, litigation is retarding rather than facilitating a just resolution of copyright models for the digital age.
The Authors Guild and its baby-brother alphabet-soup writers' organizations need to muzzle their lawyers and – in partnership with libraries and responsible corporate players – get Congress to move on the national business of copyright reform, antitrust waivers, and compulsory licenses in order to realize the benefits of new technologies.
One thing about this suit and others like it is that while they stop unauthorized exploitation of copyrighted works, they also tend to stop any legitimate exploitation as well. It’s not as if the Guild or any affiliated organizations in the suits have any plan to do anything other than maintain the status quo.
In a related note, Library Journal reported on September 8 that OCLC and EBSCO planned to integrate the HathiTrust Collection into WorldCat and the EBSCO Discovery Service respectively. There are no dates when this will take place, probably due to the litigation issues. However, this shows that there is money to be made and make works in the collection more widely available.
See my earlier post, Authors Guild Sues HathiTrust Over Orphan Books for details about the suit. [MG]