GSU implemented its policy in a way that invited disregard for basic copyright norms by delegating difficult copyright decisions to faculty without guidance, without meaningful review mechanisms, and without providing any funds to pay for permissions when necessary. The result poses a threat to the creative ecosystem in which copyright protection provides incentives for scholars and publishers to develop and distribute high-quality materials for students of all ages. Academic publishers, faculty, and librarians may have their differences. But they are tightly bound together in a common enterprise: education.Also, I posted the following in June from the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
The transition to digital delivery holds great promise for quicker access to a broader range of materials through more channels, with greater flexibility for teaching faculty. And in some cases, lower costs. But the ecosystem is degraded by using digital formats as a rationale for the reproduction and distribution of significant amounts of copyrighted material for "free."
Misconceptions about the GSU litigation are widespread in part because the fair use exception to copyright is not widely understood. An educational purpose is one factor in determining fair use, but it doesn't stand alone. If all copying for educational purposes were fair use, the production of high-quality educational content would decline or disappear.
What's at Stake in the Georgia State Copyright Case (The Chronicle)
A closely watched trial in federal court in Atlanta, Cambridge University Press et al. v. Patton et al., is pitting faculty, libraries, and publishers against one another in a case that could clarify the nature of copyright and define the meaning of fair use in the digital age. Under copyright law, the doctrine of fair use allows some reproduction of copyrighted material, with a classroom exemption permitting an unspecified amount to be reproduced for educational purposes.What follows are several different points of view of the case - all very interesting.
At issue before the court is the practice of putting class readings on electronic reserve (and, by extension, on faculty Web sites). Cambridge, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Publications, with support from the Association of American Publishers and the Copyright Clearance Center, are suing four administrators at Georgia State University. But the publishers more broadly allege that the university (which, under "state sovereign immunity," cannot be prosecuted in federal court) has enabled its staff and students to claim what amounts to a blanket exemption to copyright law through an overly lenient definition of the classroom exemption. The plaintiffs are asking for an injunction to stop university personnel from making material available on e-reserve without paying licensing fees. A decision is expected in several weeks.