‘Fair Use’ – Professors versus Publishers

In a recent judgment, A U.S. Court ruled in favor of Georgia State University’s professors’ using excerpts of published works for the purpose of education. The case primarily rules in favor of the professors and the university on the issue of Copyright Infringement.
The case involved Georgia State University on the defending side and three major publishing companies namely, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and SAGE publications as the plaintiffs who had collectively filed around 74 copyright infringement claims against the University.
The respected Judge through a 350-page order dealt with each claim individually going into absolute details and applied the four factors concerning ‘fair use’ to decide the matter.
The four factors considered by the court were a) purpose and character of the use – while this factor was ruled in favor of the University in every claim, the court held that the University Library’s ERES system used to distribute the excerpts were for educative use only and that worked in favor of the defendants, b) nature of copyrighted work – even this factor was ruled in favor of the defendants in every claim as the excerpts used benefited the students and this was given a higher priority, c) amount and substantiality – this factor was individually assessed through each claim and on calculations, and most of them worked in favor of the defendants, d) effect on the potential market – this factor, the court held that while the cost of education was being reduced by the use of these excerpts, it was being done so by the University without any potential effect on the market as against the plaintiffs.
Thus the Court dismissed most of the copyright infringement claims and ruled in favor of the University as reducing educational cost by use of these excerpts benefited students without harming the publishers when weighed relatively. Thus the concept of ‘fair use’ was not just upheld but the scope and meaning of the same have been taken to new heights, in this matter.
The actual repercussions of this judgment are yet to be felt but this case proves a landmark in the continuous fight between Universities n Publishing houses over the extent and scope of ‘fair use of copyrighted works for the purposes of education. For now, it’s the professors who rejoice along with students while publishing houses look for a way through.

Contributed by: Shravan

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