Scanning whole books is fair use


13 Responses to “Scanning whole books is fair use”

  1. nettdata says:

    What are your thoughts on this, Cory?  It’d be interesting to hear from someone who has some skin in this game.

  2. robuluz says:

    Hmmm. That sounds like a common sense interpretation of the law as it relates to new techniques and innovations made possible by technology.


  3. JMac001 says:

    Though I am usually tenacious in my defense of “Fair Use”, the headline caused me to say “Uh-oh”. How could scanning entire books be fair use?

    However for search purposes in a public research library I can see the benefit clearly, and without general access the scanning makes much more sense.


  4. TaymonBeal says:

    I’m particularly heartened by that last point. I sincerely hope it becomes widely adopted as a legal precedent.

    To give a single example of something that would benefit from this: Sampling.

  5. Tony Sanfilippo says:

    I think the ruling was a little more subtle than the headline portrays. Judge Baer said libraries could scan for the purpose of indexing and data mining, and to offer their materials for the print disabled. I don’t think that this ruling includes scanning for public circulation.

    • ocker3 says:

       A key proviso, making the ruling seem quite nuanced and intelligent.

      And hooray for giving more access to books for the sight-impaired!

  6. Jon in Notts says:

    But what are ” its implications for Ars Technica” ? I didn’t see that in the article

    • Mighty Blowhole says:

      Your quote is too short…
      “Timothy B Lee does a good job summing up the judgment and its implications for Ars Technica”
      His good job consists of the summing up… (which was done for

  7. highdesert says:

    It’s like making a concordance for every book ever, which is not only legitimate fair use but also awesome.

  8. Chuck says:

    If I write a book, and get it published, then produce a braille version, and maybe an audio-book version, and then someone else simply takes the printed edition, scans it entirely and uses Google translate to make a Japanese version – is that still fair use?

    What if I don’t do a braille version? Or I’m working on the audio-book version and someone else does it first?
    The judge seems to be suggesting that simply taking a printed work and scanning it, for some purpose other than originally intended, is fair use. So if I don’t make my book available in .epub format, does that mean someone else is allowed to do so?

    There’s a local artist in my town who sells originals and prints of her work, along with postcards of the same images. She’s just found out that someone has been making cheap coasters and other items, using her images, all made in China and now sold in some local souvenir shops.  She didn’t intend for that to happen – is that fair use?

    • Ronald Pottol says:

      Well, there is first sale doctrine, as long as you don’t make logical copies (only one user per purchase book at a time), you are legal. 
      So I can buy your postcards, and laminate them into coasters, and I’m legal. Now if I go and make copies of your work, and make coasters from that, you can sue me for copyright violations.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      If I write a book…

      This seems to be the key concept in comments opposing fair use.

    • Jim Ottaviani says:

      I think you’re confusing derivative works (e.g. foreign language translations) with transformative works (e.g. creating massive, multi-book indexes). Authors/creators usually reserve the rights for derivative works, but transformative uses, depending on the four factors the judge described in detail, can be fair uses…and in this case, were.

Leave a Reply