GSU Fair Use Roundup

On May 11 a US District Court issued its long awaited decision in the lawsuit brought by three academic publishers against Georgia State University for its use of copyrighted materials in its “electronic reserves” system. A practice at many universities is to post scans of required classroom readings to secure “student only” websites or course management systems such as Blackboard. The GSU had developed a policy on the use of copyrighted materials that attempted to balance the rights of copyright holders and the University’s fair use rights. The GSU policy includes a “fair use checklist” that is based on the four fair use factors in 17 USC § 107.

The Chronicle of Higher Education provides a clear account of the Court’s decision. The Chronicle reports that the Court ruled “that only five of 99 alleged copyright infringements did in fact violate the plaintiffs’ copyrights”.

The text of the 350 page judgement can be found here.

For Canadian commentary on the GSU decision see Professor Ariel Katz’s blog. Professor Katz suggests that if this case were decided in Canada that “the result could be 99-0 for the defendants”. Professor Michael Geist calls Katz’s post a “must-read” for Canadian university administrators. The GSU decision is especially interesting in that it comes at a time when Canadian universities are deciding whether to sign on to Access Copyright’s model license that seeks to cover many of the same activities that the GSU case considered.

For some US commentary see the Brief from the Association of Research Libraries and these posts from Duke University’s scholarly communications blog here and here. On the publishers/rights-holders side the Association of American Publishers has issued a Statement expressing “disappointment” and the US Copyright Clearance Centre also issued a brief statement along similar lines.

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