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Oct 21 / Copyright@WSULS

Georgia State University Copyright Appeal Ruling

You may be familiar with the Georgia State University e-reserves copyright case, ruled on by Judge Evans in the Northern District of Georgia on May 11, 2012.

To refresh: a number of publishers – including Oxford, Cambridge, and Sage, funded largely by the Copyright Clearance Center – brought the suit against Georgia State University claiming the university engaged in “systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works” through its e-reserves system.

Judge Evans ruling in the case was widely considered a victory for libraries, as she found copyright infringement in only five of the 99 specific readings challenged in the case.

As you may expect, the case has been in appeal since that time.

On October 17, 2014, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling, reversing the District Court’s judgment and remanding the case back for proceedings in light of the Court of Appeals ruling.

Concerning Judge Evans’ original analysis, the Appeals Court found errors in her interpretation of the second and third fair use factors. To summarize, she cannot presume all of the works in question are “informational” and a case-by-case evaluation is necessary. Furthermore, her ruling that a firm 10% or one chapter was fair use was considered too rigid by the Appeals Court. The Appeals ruling also informed Judge Evans to give more weight to the fourth factor – concerning market harm.

For more detailed reading, both Nancy Sims at the University of Minnesota and Kevin Smith at Duke University have written detailed analyses here and here.

As an instructor at Wayne State, linking to resources owned/subscribed to by the library system is a surefire way to ensure copyright-compliance in your instruction. Would you like help creating permalinks to library resources in Blackboard? The Libraries can help! Submit a Permalink Request Form here: