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The long awaited decision in the Georgia State e-reserves case was handed down on May 11. Georgia State was sued in 2008 by three publishers, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Sage Publications, for materials in the library e-reserves system. The trial was held a year ago. In many ways it was a win for Georgia State but there are still some unanswered questions.

Georgia State won on all but five of the 99 infringement claims. The Court only looked at books and not journal articles. Before the judge even applied a fair use analysis to each work, she reviewed whether or not the publisher had a valid copyright claim to the work. There were several cases where the publisher could not definitively prove ownership so Georgia State won on those claims without fair use ever being applied.

The following are some of the highlights of the 350 page decision:

  1. Repeated use of the same work qualifies for fair use.
  2. Fair use is applied to the entire book including the table of contents, index, etc. and not just the chapters. The judge also ruled that chapters are not complete works.
  3. If a book is ten chapters or more in length, then only one chapter can be used under fair use. If the book is less than ten chapters, then 10% of the work can be used.
  4. If there are licensed digital excerpts available at a reasonable cost, then the license should be utilized.
  5. The Court set aside the Classroom Guidelines which were part of the 1976 legislative history stating that they are contrary to the intent of the actual law of fair use.
  6. The following is the breakdown of the five books that were found to be infringing:
    1. Book 1 – four chapters or 8.38% of the work was used.
    2. Book 2 – two chapters or 8.38% of the work was used.
    3. Book 3 – seven chapters of 12.29% of the work was used.
    4. Book 4 – two chapters that were also considered the heart of the work or 12.57% of the work was used.
    5. Book 5 – two chapters or 8.28% of the work was used.
  7. The publishers have 30 days in which to petition the court to request damages for the five works that were infringed.

This case was argued in the 11th Circuit.

Copyright in the News is written by University Copyright Office Director, Donna Ferullo. www.lib.purdue.edu/uco