Today the Second Circuit issued its ruling in the long awaited appeal of the HathiTrust case, and it's a big win for the libraries. The court held that scanning entire books to create full-text search capabilities, allowing access for the print-disabled, and for back-up purposes is fair use. Unfortunately, the court remanded the question of whether copying for the purposes of preservation is fair use, which means we will have to wait a while longer to get a decision from the lower court on that issue. The reason for the remand is a good one, however -- the Second Circuit wants the lower court to determine whether the plaintiffs even have standing to assert copyright claims on this issue in the first place.
To me, one of the most interesting things about this decision was the ruling that providing access to the print-disabled is fair use despite not being a transformative use. This is a good reminder that although transformative uses are favored by fair use, they are not necessary. Where the purpose of the copying serves other important goals, such as ensuring "equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency" for the blind and print disabled, those purposes can also be fair.
All in all, good news for libraries and the reading public.