Georgia State University Wins Copyright Case

ATLANTA—Georgia State University has prevailed in a precedent-setting lawsuit that will help determine the future of copyright law in the digital age.

A federal judge ruled Friday that the university was attempting to comply with copyright laws and did not deliberately infringe on trio of textbook publishers’ copyrights. Senior U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans also determined that Georgia State University was the prevailing party, and will be awarded attorneys’ fees in the case.

The lawsuit helps build the case for fair use in higher education.

“The judge’s order is a validation that the university has acted in good faith within the bounds of fair use,” said Georgia State University President Mark P. Becker. “We are pleased to have helped set the bar going forward.”

Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and SAGE Publications, who filed the suit in 2008, had argued that the university violated copyright law by allowing its professors to provide students free electronic access to selected portions of certain textbooks.

In a ruling handed down May 11, Judge Evans rejected nearly all of the copyright claims, finding only five instances of infringement of nearly 100 alleged cases. The order Friday brings the case to a close.

“The judge’s order confirms of hard work and dedication by our legal and university team,” said Georgia State University Attorney Kerry Heyward. “This has been a lengthy and complicated case, and I’m grateful for the judge’s appreciation of the academic environment.”

Georgia State University had already modified its copyright policy in accordance with the judge’s ruling in a University System-wide update.

The University System of Georgia’s e-reserve policy, which was cited in the case, was “based on practices from the broader academic library community,” said Nancy Seamans, GSU’s Dean of Libraries.

Aug. 13, 2012