Georgia State University Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)In what may be a precedent-setting 350-page ruling in Cambridge University Press et al. v. Patton et al. (Case No. 1:2008-cv-01425), Senior United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Judge Orinda Evans ruled that Georgia State University was protected by the fair use doctrine against copyright infringement claims by SAGE Publications, Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press.
As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Associated Press and elsewhere, Judge Evans's decision, which some legal experts believe may be the first of its kind in the nation, rejected the plaintiffs' allegations that GSU sanctioned copyright infringement by permitting professors to download and copy excerpts from course materials. Judge Evans ruled in favor of GSU on 69 counts of copyright infringement, but found against the defendant on five counts in which she determined publishers suffered monetary damages where students had unrestricted access to complete textbook chapters; specifically, five excerpts from four different texts.
The plaintiffs filed sued in April 2008. In her ruling, Judge Evans concluded reproducing one chapter in a book that contained more than 10 chapters was permissible without constituting copyright infringement. Under the fair use doctrine [17 U.S.C. sec. 107], a copyright holder need not consent to publication of his or her material depending on the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion of the work used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole and the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Judge Evans wrote her decision would "further the spread of knowledge."