There have been developments, of the sort that don’t make headlines, in two major copyright cases that folks in higher education need to know about.
First, today the Supreme Court announced that it would not review the opinion issued by the Second Circuit in the Authors Guild v. Google, the case about the Google Books project that offered a strong reaffirmation of fair use. So the Authors Guild finally and definitively loses another in its string of anti-fair use cases. This was what I and many others expected, but it is nice to be able to say that this case is done. And the broad, flexible approach to fair use that is outlined in the Second Circuit’s decision stands, which is great news.
If the library is the heart of a university, then exercising fair use is the lifeblood. Teachers, researchers, students, librarians and publishers exercise fair use in countless ways every day. It is fair use that facilitates re-using and re-mixing, if you will, the knowledge preserved and made available by libraries into new discoveries and interpretations. This process of research and scholarship has been referred to as ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ because we all rely on that which has gone before to provide insight, context and meaning for today.