The HathiTrust Digital Library: A Fair Use Story

Sara R. Benson, Copyright Librarian, University of Illinois.

If you are unfamiliar with the work of the HathiTrust Digital Library, fair use week is a great time to familiarize yourself with it.  The HathiTrust Digital Library “is a not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries preserving 17+ million digitized items.”[1]  Essentially, partner libraries digitize volumes of in-copyright and public domain books for preservation and access through the library.  The library makes the works available to the fullest extent possible under United States copyright law.  Thus, for public domain works, the works are fully available to read and access through the digital library.  (The HathiTrust also works with library partners to review works to determine whether they are in-copyright or have fallen into the public domain due to failed formalities).[2]  For in-copyright works, researchers can search to see how many times a particular term is used in the book and on which pages the term is used.  This search feature has been deemed a quintessential fair use by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals[3] and paved the way for the broader Google Books fair use court decision.[4]

Select member affiliated researchers can also engage in text mining with in-copyright books through a special Data Capsule.  This capsule allows researchers to use a secure online environment to engage in research and text mining with the book corpus.

If you are unfamiliar with the HathiTrust Digital Library and the HathiTrust Research Center, fair use week is as good a time as any to get familiar with it.  What are you waiting for?  Dive into the resources available through the HathiTrust and discover a whole new text-mining world!

[1] https://www.hathitrust.org/about.

[2] https://www.hathitrust.org/copyright-review.

[3] Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, 755 F.3d 87 (2d Cir. 2014).

[4] Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., 804 F.3d 202 (2d Cir. 2015).

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