[mla-nynj] Fwd: Update on Georgia State University's copyright infringement case

Mahnaz Tehrani mtehrani at nyit.edu
Thu Oct 7 19:54:28 UTC 2010

Dear members,
The following message is forwarded on behalf of Mary Langman.


Dear GRC and Legislative Task Force Members:

You may be aware of the Georgia State University copyright infringement case. The case centers around the alleged complaint that GSU violated copyright law by providing reserve materials to students in digital content without seeking permission from the publishers or paying licensing fees. The following links provide background information and an update on the case.

 *   Sept. 30, J2010 udge's ruling: http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/georgia/gandce/1:2008cv01425/150651/235/
 *   From Kevin Smith's Scholarly Communications at Duke blog: http://bit.ly/9lT6Jw
 *   Background about the case: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/16/technology/16school.html, http://www.aallnet.org/committee/copyright/pages/issues/GSU_case.html
 *   More from Peter Hirtle on this:
In my blog posting amplifying on Kevin Smith's post and found at http://blog.librarylaw.com/librarylaw/2010/10/who-infringed-at-georgia-state.html , I directed readers to my discussion of direct and indirect infringement in "Copyright & Cultural Institutions."  You might want to start there. The normal standard for a contributory infringer is one who
knows, or has reason to know, of an infringing activity, and induces, causes, or materially contributes to that  direct
In the Georgia State case, there are at least two issues at play. First, did a direct infringement occur?  You can't have
contributory infringement without a direct infringement.  Since Section 107 of the Copyright Act lists "multiple copies for
classroom use" as one of the likely fair uses, this may be an uphill fight.  Second, if we assume that direct infringement did
occur, did Georgia State contribute to that infringement?  Since GSU's policy is aimed at ensuring students and faculty respect copyright, that too may be a difficult argument.
As Kevin notes, the final decision will hinge on implementation issues.  Should Georgia State, for example, have played a much more direct role in monitoring and controlling what went on in the classroom?  By not doing so, did it encourage or materially contribute to infringement by students or faculty?  And if Georgia State were to inset itself into the classroom, how would that impact our traditional notions of academic freedom?
Peter Hirtle
Mary M. Langman, Coordinator
Information Issues and Policy
Medical Library Association
65 E. Wacker Pl., Ste. 1900
Chicago, Illinois 60601-7246

ph  312/419-9094, ext. 27
fax  312/419-8950
mlaedo2 at mlahq.org<mailto:mlaedo2 at mlahq.org>

Mahnaz A. Tehrani MLIS, MSIT
New York College of Osteopathic Medicine
Northern Blvd.,
Old Westbury, NY 11568-8000
E-mail: mtehrani at nyit.edu<mailto:mtehrani at nyit.edu>
Phone: 516-686-3944
Fax: 516-686-3906

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