Library Copyright Alliance supports Georgia State University in copyright dispute

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The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) has filed a 'friend of the court' brief in support of Georgia State University (GSU), USA in response to legal action by a group of publishers over copyright.

The case began in 2008 when Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Publishers sued GSU for alleged copyright infringement. The publishers argued that GSU’s use of excerpts from copyright-protected materials in password-protected course e-reserves and class sites was a violation of the copyright law. The Association of American Publishers and the Copyright Clearance Center organised and funded the lawsuit.

In its brief, LCA argues that GSU’s e-reserves policy is consistent with widespread and well-established best practices for fair use at academic and research libraries, and that these uses have no negative effects on scholarship. LCA was represented by Jonathan Band and attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The case is on appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Last May, Judge Orinda Evans of the US District Court in Atlanta ruled in favour of the university in a lengthy decision that reviewed each of 75 alleged infringements, finding only five infringing uses. In her ruling, Judge Evans saw little evidence of market harm to the publishers, and clearly understood that current teaching practices were beneficial to teachers and students, as well as being reasonable and fair. She also ordered the publishers to pay GSU’s attorneys’ fees and costs (nearly $3 million).

LCA is one of several groups filing on the side of GSU. Other groups represented in briefs championing what they describe as 'fair use rights of faculty, students, and librarians' include the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries, and the American Association of University Professors.