HathiTrust Defendants Respond to Authors Guild Lawsuit

The HathiTrust digital repository and the five universities sued by the Authors Guild and others over mass book digitization and alleged copyright infringement have filed a response to the lawsuit. In September the plaintiffs sued the trust and its home institution, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, as well as Cornell and Indiana Universities and the Universities of California and of Wisconsin, in federal district court in New York City. At stake is the control of millions of digitized works held by the trust and the universities. In a December 2 filing, the defendants asked that the HathiTrust case be dismissed. They argued that state sovereign immunity bars the plaintiffs from suing the universities. They invoked the First Amendment and several sections of the Copyright Act, saying that their activities are protected under those laws. They said that the trust is a “service” of the University of Michigan and can’t be sued as “a distinct entity.” They also questioned the plaintiffs’ standing and the court’s jurisdiction. The court has set a deadline of May 20, 2012, for the discovery phase to conclude, with trial scheduled for November if the case was not dismissed or settled.

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