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ACE Submits Amicus Brief in Support of GSU in Fair Use Case

April 29, 2013

ACE amicus brief


ACE has submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in a case that examines whether it is “fair use” for professors to reserve small excerpts of academic works online for review by their students.

In the case Cambridge University Press v. Becker, publishers accused Georgia State University (GSU) officials of copyright violations for allowing professors to post excerpts from published works for course materials in library e-reserves without getting the publishers' permission or paying licensing fees.

The amicus brief argues that the constitutional purpose of copyright is to promote progress of science and that GSU’s educational use is a fundamental public benefit, protected by the First Amendment.

It further argues that the authors of academic works create them for wide dissemination and enhancement of knowledge, not for personal economic benefit. The works at issue were created with the support of the educational institutions that employ the scholars, enabling and encouraging them to pursue and share their research and scholarship.

The case is on appeal from a U.S. district court in Atlanta, where in May 2012, Judge Orinda Evans rejected 70 copyright infringement claims filed by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Sage Publications, finding that only five excerpts exceeded the court's analysis of statutory fair use factors.

The suit, filed in 2008, was the first of its kind in the country and examined a key element of the way college professors teach and students learn in the Internet age—using online library e-reserves. It tested the application of the fair use doctrine, which allows use of published material without the consent of the copyright owner on a limited basis, following evaluation of four factors:

  1. The purpose and character of the use (commercial vs. non-commercial)
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. How much of the work is being copied
  4. The effect upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

Also signing the brief are the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

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