Thursday, August 16, 2012

Copyright and Fair Use at Georgia State

Link to this excellent blog note by Kevin Smith at Duke about the ruling in the Georgia State fair use litigation. (Cambridge Univ. Press, et al. v. Mark Becker as President of Georgia State Univ., et al., in the Federal District Court for the N. Dist. of Georgia, Atlanta Div., opinion filed May 11, 2012) Tip of the OOTJ hat to our fabulous colleague, Ron Wheeler at San Francisco U.

The thing was, that in a mixed, complex opinion, more than half the claims were either dropped by the publishers or dismissed by the judge, and then, in the stunning finish, the judge awarded the costs and attorney fees to Georgia State!

There are a number of articles by now on the matter:

Chronicle of Higher Education (with the excellent link to the decision).

Library Journal (includes links to earlier articles in the same journal covering the original filing of the case, and the closing arguments in the case, etc., but no links to original documents, sadly).

Inside Higher Education includes a link to Prof. Kevin Smith's blog post as well as one to the Association of American University Presses website in support of the plaintiffs in the case. This includes an excellent section of original documents in the case, most from the plaintiffs, but some from the defendants as well. Excellent link site!

Educause provides a web page with lots of links original documents:
* Document with links to the decision and analysis by 3 scholars (note from Betsy: this sometimes does not show up on my computer; I am not sure if it's a problem with my computer or their link)

* a memorandum summarizing the key rulings in the case and the implications for libraries (again, the PDF does not show up on my computer and I don't know if it's their glitch or mine)

* policy notes from the ARL (I cannot get this link to work today; I hope it works other times!)

* a collection of blog notes from all over about the case, and more (these work!)

The Digital Reader - very handy because it handily recaps the story of the case up til the decision, and provides some nice links out to blogs and a NY Times story that follows the story through the years from the 2008 filing til now.

Experts figure the story may not be over yet. They expect that the publishers may go on to appeal this district court decision. But it was a huge statement for Fair Use Doctrine defenders in an era when there has been such a drumbeat (at least in the lobbyist-influenced legislatures) in favor of the copyright holders. But it's a complex, nuanced and HUGE decision -- 350 pages! The judge was careful and made decisions on an item-by-item basis.

She laid out clear rules for how universities can and cannot use textbook versus non-textbook materials and still fit within fair use guidelines. But she also gave GSU credit for sincerely trying to develop policies that would honor fair use. That undoubtedly saved them!

So, it's not a broad, clear win for one side over the other. But the awarding of the attorney fees was a pretty strong statement!

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