Important copyright case pending and Copyright Clearance Center funds litigation against university
October 12, 2010 | 5:33 pm
By Paul Biba
Inside Higher Ed has an article about the current state of the Georgia State University e-reserve case. The case has the potential to have a huge impact on university libraries. I was unaware of it and found the report most interesting. Much more detail in the article.
Three large scholarly publishers – Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and SAGE – sued officials at Georgia State University, claiming that the ways that course readings were being made available to students through electronic systems massively and systematically violated the publishers’ copyright. This is an important case, because what Georgia State does is not unlike what most academic institutions are doing: making selected readings available to students either through library e-reserves systems, through course management systems, or both. Publishers feel somebody should pay if so many students have access to this literature. Librarians feel they are applying the four factor test carefully and paying permissions only when the factors do not support fair use – because we can’t afford to pay over and over again just in case. Faculty want to expose their students to texts that are important to their courses but which are not included in textbooks, and asking students to pay for the privilege, article by article, would make that difficult if not impossible.
What I also found interesting is that, according to the article, the Copyright Clearance Center is partly funding the litigation on the plaintiffs’ behalf:
Incidentally, if you’re wondering where all that money for permissions goes, the ruling offers a hint. The Copyright Clearance Center, an organization designed to collect permission fees on behalf of publishers, is paying half the plaintiff’s costs. Your permission dollars are at work.
I’ve poked around the CCC website, and nowhere do I see anything saying that they are in the business of funding litigation. Maybe they are not as “friendly” as their press image tries to make them out to be.
Thanks to Michael von Glahn for the link.