Last Friday the Judge finally handed down a decision in the Georgia State University e-reserves case, a year after the trial and three years after the suit was brought by academic publishers SAGE, Cambridge University Press, and Oxford University Press. These publishers sued GSU for allowing faculty to upload course readings excerpted from books to the university’s course management system, alleging that the university had gone beyond the accepted guidelines for fair use.
It’s only Monday morning but there’s already been loads of commentary on the decision, a PDF of which was posted online late Friday by Nancy Sims, Copyright Program Librarian at the University of Minnesota. It seems that on balance the decision favors GSU and libraries: copyright violation was found in only 5 of the 99 instances of uploading course readings. I’m sure there will be more coming on this case, as neither GSU nor the plaintiffs have released comments on the decision. But here are some great articles to get you started considering this case and its potential effects on academic libraries:
If the university presses that sued Georgia State over the use of electronic readings offered their students through the campus CMS, department pages, and library e-reserves were looking for a “whoops” and the kind of statement that Cornell (and other schools) have adopted – they guessed wrong.
At issue: well, it depends on how you frame it. University presses think Georgia State violated their rights by not “seeking permission” (copyright lingo for “paying”) to use digital copies of their publications. They want the university to adopt practices that are at least closer to their more limited definition of fair use. Georgia State believes they were furthering students’ education in a way that is fair use. And in papers filed on Tuesday they’ve just explained their side of it to the court.
Andrea Foster’s article in the Chron (the only coverage of this development that I’ve seen so far) points out that Georgia State is making another argument – as a state institution they’re immune from prosecution.
Without having a copy of the filing, it’s hard to read the tea leaves – but this could be precedent-setting in ways the previous settlements were not. How interesting that this document was filed just before ALA is having its annual meeting in Annaheim and at the very same time the American Association of University Presses is meeting in Toronto. I’d love to have two flies on those conference center walls with Twitter accounts.
(The AAUP has a statement of support for the press’s suit posted on their website, but it’s from last April. I tried to see if they have updates on their blog, but guess what – it’s closed to non-members. I also couldn’t find a statement from Georgia State’s press office at their Website.)
Do you know more about this court filing? Do tell.
This story in The New York Times is alarming – does anyone know more about it? Though libraries, CMS’s, and e-reserves are not mentioned, it appears to have widespread implications.
Three prominent academic publishers are suing Georgia State University, contending that the school is violating copyright laws by providing course reading material to students in digital format without seeking permission from the publishers or paying licensing fees.
In a complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court in Atlanta, the publishers â€” Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Sage Publications â€” sued four university officials, asserting â€œsystematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted worksâ€ by Georgia State, which the university distributes through its Web site.
The lawsuit, which may be the first of its kind, raises questions about digital rights, which are confronting many media companies, but also about core issues like the future of the business model for academic publishers.
If anyone has the inside scoop, please share it with us.
Update: The AJC writes a really confusing headline but adds some information about the library angle; Inside Higher Ed writes journalistic circles around the Gray Lady. The complaint is here. The Chron comments on the commentary and links to a fascinating take from Kevin Smith that argues libraries and faculty aren’t free-riders on publishers, it’s the other way around: publishers get free content from academia, then wants to be paid all over again when it’s used for courses.