Ruling Makes Ten Million Books Accessible to Blind Readers

Landmark court ruling

On October 10, 2012, Judge Harold Baer of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the National Federation of the Blind’s Motion for Summary Judgment in The Authors’ Guild v. HathiTrust case.

Dan Goldstein, Laura Abelson, and Jessie Weber from Brown, Goldstein & Levy represented the National Federation of the Blind and three individual blind students and faculty members at the defendant universities. Noting the “eloquent oral argument of Mr. Goldstein,” Judge Baer’s decision adopted the NFB’s arguments regarding fair use under the Copyright Act and permits university libraries to digitize their entire collections of books and printed media to make them searchable for all members of the university communities and fully accessible and available to the blind and print disabled. The decision not only allows access to members of the university communities, but it allows the university libraries to make ten million accessible books available to blind readers around the country.

The Authors’ Guild initially sued the HathiTrust (the repository of the Google books university scans) and several participating universities, alleging violations of the Copyright Act for the mass digitization of their collections. The NFB intervened because this is the largest accessible digital collection in the world. The University of Michigan has already made its collection available to students with print disabilities, revolutionizing library access for those students.

Summary Judgment PDF
NFB Press Release

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