The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) has filed an amicus brief (pdf) in support of Georgia State University in the appeal of Cambridge U. Press et al. v. Mark P. Becker et al. In its brief (pdf), LCA argues that GSU’s e-reserves policy represents the widespread and well-established best practices of fair use that includes limitations to ensure that the use of course materials is fair. The case will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
The case began in 2008 when Cambridge, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Publishers sued Georgia State University (GSU) for copyright infringement. The publishers argued that GSU’s use of copyright-protected materials in course e-reserves without a license was a violation of the copyright law. Notably, the Association of American Publishers and the Copyright Clearance Center, the for-profit licensing arm for much of the academic publishing community, continue to finance the legal action.
In May 2012, Judge Orinda Evans of the U.S. District Court in Atlanta ruled in favor of the university in a lengthy 350-page decision that reviewed the 99 alleged infringements, finding all but 5 to be fair uses. In her ruling, the Judge saw little evidence of market harm to the publishers.
This was a notable victory for educational institutions and libraries as the court clearly understood that current teaching practices were reasonable and fair. As expected the publishers appealed, arguing that the ruling is not only a “threat to the core of academic publishing”, it re-interprets fair use far too broadly.
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