ARL Policy Notes
Supplemental Testimony of James G. Neal on Preservation and Reuse Endorsed by Library Copyright Alliance (LCA)

One week after testifying before the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet during the Hearing on Preservation and Reuse of Copyrighted Works, James G. Neal of Columbia University in New York City submitted supplemental testimony to address questions raised during the hearing and expand on his earlier written statement. The supplemental testimony addresses five issues: collective licensing, contractual restrictions on copyright exceptions, preservation of born-digital materials, the cost of preservation, and community fair use best practices. The Library Copyright Alliance has endorsed the supplemental statement.

Collective Licensing

The supplemental testimony noted that collective rights’ organizations (CROs) often represent problematic models that fail to pay artists and authors the revenues they earned and cautions against relying on such models as solutions, particularly with respect to preservation, mass digitization and orphan works. CROs have had a history of corruption, mismanagement, lack of transparency, among other issues. The statement pointed to two specific examples of problematic behavior of CROs. The first example is that the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) has used fees it collected from research and academic libraries to sue Georgia State University over the use of books written by academics in an e-reserves case. The second example is the Educational Rights Collective Canada that, in fifteen years of operation, has failed to distribute any royalties to authors but is $830,000 in debt.

Contractual Restrictions on Copyright Exceptions

The supplemental testimony expanded on Neal’s oral testimony with respect to ensuring that contractual provisions do not circumvent the exceptions in the Copyright Act. The testimony noted that in licensing electronic resources, publishers often include terms that restrict the fair use right, library exceptions and first sale doctrine. It also pointed out that restricting such contractual provisions exists in numerous areas, both domestically and in foreign jurisdictions. Neal concluded “As part of its review of the Copyright Act, the Subcommittee should assess the adverse impact of the potential replacement of the public law of copyright with the private law of contract, both on libraries and the public at large. I believe that Congress should adopt restrictions on the enforcement of contractual terms that attempt to limit exceptions in the Copyright Act such as first sale, fair use or interlibrary loan under Section 108.”

Preservation of Born-Digital Materials

Neal’s supplemental testimony expanded on his oral testimony regarding the need to preserve born-digital materials. The supplemental statement pointed to studies that reveal that digital materials are also subject to risk of loss, corruption and destruction. It noted also the issue of website archiving and importance of digital preservation in order to address the problem of “link rot” and preserve the cultural heritage expressed through websites. Neal asserted that it is “essential” to rely on fair use to preserve linked references.

Cost of Preservation

Responding to a question from a member of the Judiciary Committee concerning the cost of preservation and access, Neal expanded on creative solutions to address preservation efforts, noting that HathiTrust and the Digital Preservation Network represent cooperative, shared infrastructure models that avoid unnecessary duplication and can reduce overall costs of preservation. The supplemental statement also noted that while it would have taken the University of Michigan 1,000 years to digitize its collection of books, Google’s assistance has allowed it to already largely complete the digitization effort.

Community Fair Use Best Practices

The final section of Neal’s supplemental testimony endorsed the development of fair use best practices and includes a copy of ARL’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries.

Orphan Works/Mass Digitization Roundtables: Copyright and Fair Use Myths and Realities

During the orphan works roundtables, several participants attacked fair use and libraries, misstated the purpose of the copyright system in the United States, or inaccurately portrayed the activities of HathiTrust. Here are just some of the misconceptions or myths cited at the roundtable and responses to these inaccuracies:

Myth 1: Fair use is too uncertain

Some advocates of a legislative orphan works solution argued that legislation is necessary because fair use is too uncertain or unpredictable.

Reality: Fair use is a fairly predictable doctrine

Fair use is actually fairly predictable. Professor Pamela Samuelson wrote an article in 2009 entitled, Unbundling Fair Uses which concluded that “Fair use is both more coherent and more predictable than many commentators have perceived once one recognizes that fair use cases fall into common patterns.” In fact, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) pointed to this very article when proposing that Australia adopt a fair use provision. The ALRC went on to note that fair use factors can represent “a clear principled standard [that] is more certain than an unclear complex rule.” In recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, Professor Peter Jaszi (American University) similarly stated that fair use jurisprudence is predictable and coherent.

Myth 2: Recent fair use jurisprudence consumes Section 108 and renders the provision meaningless

Some have argued that applying fair use to activities not explicitly permitted under Section 108 makes this specific limitation, as well as others that libraries rely on, meaningless. They also suggest that fair use goes too far when applied where Section 108 does not apply.

Reality: Section 108(f)(4) includes an explicit savings clause that fair use still applies

Section 108(f)(4) provides that “Nothing in this section—in any way affects the rights of fair use as provided by section 107…” The plain language of the statute could not be any more clear: “Nothing … in any way affects the rights of fair use.” It is obvious that fair use applies even where a specific limitation or exception codified under Section 108 does not, subject of course to evaluation of the four fair use factors. Some argue against the plain language by asking what the purpose of Section 108 is if libraries can simply rely on the fair use provision of Section 107. Explicit limitations and exceptions can be beneficial in providing certainty for certain activities, particularly for those that are risk adverse, or apply where fair use might not. Libraries rely on a mix of purpose specific limitations and exceptions as well as fair use in order to achieve their public service mission and respond to evolving technology.

Myth 3: Fair use being used as an excuse by the library community to perform activities not covered by specific limitations or exceptions

Several participants claimed that fair use was just an excuse being used by the library community where specific limitations do not exist. Others argued that fair use has gone too far and has made copyright the exception to fair use.

Reality: Libraries are a conscientious and risk adverse community. Fair use is being used after careful thought and based on solid legal footing

Although there are numerous purpose specific limitations and exceptions that libraries rely upon, they do not cover every situation and fair use has long been relied upon where specific exceptions do not exist. Libraries are not pirates, but rather, are trusted institutions serving a public mission to provide access to knowledge and culture within the boundaries of the law.

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries notes that “how judges have interpreted fair use affects the community’s ability to employ fair use.” The practices of libraries are grounded in court decisions and judicial interpretations of the fair use doctrine.

Myth 4: Fair use clearly prohibits any uses that have an effect on the market

One commentator at the orphan works roundtable repeatedly argued that relying on fair use for any uses that have an affect on the market violates copyright law and is an infringement of a creator’s rights.

Reality: Fair use is a flexible standard and all four factors are considered together

Fair use is not designed to require satisfaction of all four statutory factors, but instead are considered together. The four factors include: 1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 2) the nature of the copyrighted work; 3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value for the copyrighted work.

The Supreme Court has explicitly stated that the factors are not to “be treated in isolation from one another. All are to be explored and weighed together, in light of copyright’s purpose” Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569 (1994). Following this line of reasoning, circuit courts have confirmed that a defendant does not need to prevail on each of the four factors in order to successfully rely on fair use.

Myth 5: Copyright’s primary purpose is free expression and not to promote the public benefit

A disagreement broke out during one of the panels, with one person arguing that there is no legal basis for the argument that copyright’s primary purpose is to promote the public benefit.

Reality: The Constitution clearly states that the purpose of the intellectual property system is to “promote the progress of science of the useful arts” and the Supreme Court has repeatedly pointed to the importance of the public interest

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution sets forth the constitutional rationale for the intellectual property system: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” The Supreme Court has repeatedly noted that this clause is both a grant of power and a limitation for Congress.

In Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, the Court cited past precedent dating back to 1932 that “The copyright law, like the patent statutes makes reward to the owner a secondary consideration” and that “The sole interest of the United States and the primary object in conferring the monopoly lie in the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors” (emphasis added). Additionally, the Supreme Court noted that “The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an ‘author’s creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good” (emphasis added).

Additionally, fair use is an important limitation to copyright and has been upheld by the Supreme Court as a “First Amendment safeguard.”

Myth 6: Best practices in fair use are a contemporary/recent standard and not known by creators

One participant discounted the value of best practices because they have only been developed recently and have not withstood the test of time. Another suggested that the communities themselves did not create these best practices.

Reality: While many codes of best practices are recent, these practices contained within the codes have been used prior to being collected in a code

Codes of best practices do not appear out of thin air. The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, for example, was created in consultation with 150 research and academic librarians across the country. The Code of Best Practices draws upon the experiences of academic and research librarians and is a compilation of their best practices. Although not every librarian might agree with every principle, limitation or enhancement, as pointed out during the roundtable by one of the principal authors of this Code, Brandon Butler, such librarians are in the minority. While the aggregation of these best practices into a single document may have occurred recently, the practices themselves are not new to many libraries.

Myth 7: Digitization without authorization is not fair use. Other than the district courts in HathiTrust and Georgia State, courts have not approved of these types of activities.

Some participants discounted the district court decisions in HathiTrust and Georgia State University, noting that these cases were still in their first round and that circuit courts had yet to decide the case. Others stated that other than these two district courts, no courts have approved of these activities as fair use

Reality: Numerous circuits have upheld mirror image copies as transformative and applied fair use

Although HathiTrust and Georgia State University do involve new issues of mass digitization, several circuit courts have addressed whether mirror image or exact copying is fair use, finding that transformative copies are protected by fair use. The Fourth Circuit in A.V. v. iParadigms, for example found that using student papers to create a plagiarism database was protected under fair use. Similarly, in Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon as well as Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corp., the Ninth Circuit found that using website images to create a search index constituted fair use. Likewise, the Second Circuit upheld fair use in Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley for the use of concert posters in a book. These cases provided a solid basis for the HathiTrust _and _Georgia State University decisions and suggestions that the district courts went rogue and circuits have not approved of these types of activities are incorrect; circuit after circuit has upheld mirror image copying as fair use. While it is true that both HathiTrust and Georgia State University are on appeal, there are strong legal arguments supporting the application of fair use to mass digitization in these cases.

Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) Comments on EU Consultation on Copyright Rules

On March 3, 2014, the Library Copyright Alliance submitted a response to the EU consultation on the review of copyright rules. The EU website provided a list of 80 questions for stakeholders to answer; the LCA response focuses on those questions most relevant to the library community. The categories of questions to which LCA responded cover digital transmissions, term of protection, limitations and exceptions, preservation and archiving, e-lending, mass digitization, teaching, research, and access for persons with disabilities. The full LCA response can be accessed here.

LCA responds extensively to questions on limitations and exceptions, in particular advocating for fair use. LCA recommends that the EU adopt a flexible fair use provision in order to address areas where specific limitations and exceptions do not exist and to allow the copyright law to evolve as technologies change. With respect to fair use and limitations and exceptions, LCA cites several documents for the EU to consider, including a 2013 white paper, How Flexibility Supports the Goals of Copyright Law: Fair Use and the U.S. Library Experience, ARL’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, Jonathan Band and Jonathan Gerafi’s The Fair Use/Fair Dealing Handbook, and Jonathan Band and Deborah Goldman’s Global Use and Fair Dealing Decisions Available Online.

In addition to broadly recommending adoption of a fair use provision in response to the EU’s general question regarding limitations and exceptions, the LCA notes in several other areas of the document that fair use can address specific issues concerning the library community. With respect to preservation and archiving, for example, the consultation response notes that while no specific limitation or exception exists in the U.S. to permit web archiving, libraries and archives may rely on fair use to perform such functions. Similarly, the LCA response points out that libraries and archives may pursue mass digitization projects by relying on fair use. With regard to questions on the educational context, LCA notes that fair use can complement specific limitations and exceptions, including where specific limitations, such as those contained in the TEACH Act, are insufficient, too narrow or overly cumbersome.

Responding to other relevant questions, LCA recommends that the EU ratify the Marrakesh Treaty and ensure its implementation in all member states in order to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities. It also notes that current terms of protection for copyright are inappropriate, particularly in the digital age, and can contribute to loss of access to knowledge and an increased number of orphan works. Furthermore, the LCA response opposes any requirements that provision of a hyperlink or viewing of a webpage be subject to the authorization of the rightholder.

Harvard Fair Use Week: Best Practices in Fair Use

This week is #FairUseWeek at Harvard. You can follow all the action here, including fair use posts by guest bloggers, videos about fair use, and a live panel on Friday. You can also follow twitter.com/fairuseweek for more updates throughout the week.

The post below is cross posted at Copyright at Harvard Library

Harvard’s Fair Use Week is an opportunity to reflect not only on the importance the doctrine has already had in the academic library community, but also to consider its future role in an ever-changing world of new technologies and circumstances. A professional community consensus on fair use with respect to when and how the doctrine is applied can provide powerful guidance, defining community standards and best practices. The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries provides such guidance to a number of areas where fair use applies, including in the digital environment.

Fair use plays a critical role in the copyright system, promoting a balanced system respecting the rights of rightholders while also promoting the public interest and protecting the First Amendment. As a flexible doctrine, fair use can adapt to evolving technologies and new situations that may arise and its long history demonstrates its importance in promoting access to information, future innovation and creativity. Without this flexibility, the law would simply be unable to keep pace with rapid changes and advancements in technology. Within the academic library community, fair use has allowed for better service to patrons in areas of preservation, providing access to information resources, enhancing research, promoting education, among others, particularly where specific limitations and exceptions in the Copyright Law fail to address a particular situation.

The House Judiciary Committee on Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet is currently undergoing a “copyright review” and has already held four hearings, the most recent of which addressed “The Scope of Fair Use.” The hearing examined not only the current scope and practice of fair use, but also looked toward what the future of the doctrine might be, particularly whether any changes were necessary.

During the hearing, Members posed questions that covered a wide range of issues including, among others, how to define “transformative,” whether exporting the doctrine to other countries is appropriate and whether fair use is currently working for all groups. Most comments indicated that fair use is working and statutory changes are not necessary, however some raised questions regarding whether jurisprudence on fair use has been predictable. Best practices developed through community consensus and standards goes to the heart of this issue, promoting predictability for both those relying on fair use as well as for the rightholders.

Members expressed interest in best practices during the hearing. For example, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Conyers (D-MI) referenced best practices twice during his opening statement. After noting the historic application of the fair use doctrine in a broad range of contexts which has been made possible by the flexibility of the doctrine, Conyers concluded by encouraging development best practices: “Fair use impacts all types of industries including filmmaking, poetry, photography, music, education and journalism. We must continue to encourage these industries to develop best practices.” Similarly, Rep. Lofgren (D-CA) seemed to signal interest in best practices when she asked the Chair of the subcommittee to adopt into the record the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video.

This interest in best practices is not limited to the legislative branch. While courts are guided by the four statutory fair use factors, in practice, they have also looked to the standard practices of the communities from which the case originates in determining whether fair use applies in a given circumstance. Codes of best practices can guide members of those communities in determining whether fair use applies in a particular circumstance and how to exercise this doctrine in a manner considered acceptable in that particular professional community, thereby minimizing risk of litigation.

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries is therefore an important and useful tool for academic and research libraries making determinations as to what activities are likely to fall under fair use and how to exercise the doctrine. Developed by and for the academic and research library community, the Code identifies eight areas where fair use is commonly exercised and articulates the principles describing each circumstance, a list of considerations to inform these practices, the limitations that are recommended, and enhancements that could strengthen the case for fair use in those situations. These areas include:

  1. Supporting teaching and learning with access to library materials via digital technologies;
  2. Using selections form collection materials to publicize a library’s activities, or to create physical and virtual exhibitions;
  3. Digitizing to preserve at-risk items;
  4. Creating digital collections of archival and special collections materials;
  5. Reproducing materials for use by disabled students, faculty, staff and other appropriate users;
  6. Maintaining the integrity of works deposited in institutional repositories;
  7. Creating databases to facilitate non-consumptive research uses (including search); and
  8. Collecting material posted on the world wide web and making it available.

While some may be hesitant in exercising fair use because of perceived unpredictability, the Code of Best Practices provides reassurances that such activities are considered to be fair use in the community, a factor likely to be looked upon favorably by both Congress and the courts. Such best practices lend predictability to the fair use doctrine, demonstrating a consensus view on the areas where fair use should be exercised and the limitations that should be observed.

Congress need not make statutory changes to a doctrine that has served the public well, providing a crucial “safety valve” in copyright law. Instead, professional communities should continue to develop and rely upon best practices, such as the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, lending greater predictability and certainty to fair use, including in areas of emerging technology.

Don’t forget to check back in throughout the week for more posts about fair use here.

Power to the People: Five Reasons Fair Use Best Practices Are Changing the World

by guest bloggers Patricia Aufderheide, University Professor, American University School of Communication; Brandon Butler, Practitioner-in-Residence at the Glushko Samuelson IP Clinic, American University Washington College of Law; and Peter Jaszi, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic, American University Washington College of Law

Copyright Week is the perfect occasion to celebrate fair use, certainly the most dynamic and arguably the most important doctrine in copyright law. The last 15 or 20 years have seen a remarkable series of developments that make fair use, now more than ever, the most vital protection of the public interest in the Copyright Act. For Copyright Week, we wanted to highlight a part of the fair use landscape that, perhaps more than any other, puts fair use in the hands of practitioners who need it most: the Fair Use Best Practices movement.

With a little help from a team of researchers at American University, an ever-growing cadre of communities has identified where their work necessarily encounters copyright and the kinds of fair uses that are essential to the communities’ continued flourishing and success. Each code (read them all here) contains a short but powerful description of fair use’s broad history and meaning, followed by a set of principles that describe situations where fair use may apply accompanied by limitations that describe the outer bounds of community consensus. The effects of these documents can be dramatic. Documentary filmmakers came first, and had great success, but they’ve been joined by educators, scholars, poets, online video makers, journalists, and (most importantly for this blog) librarians. As more and more people need fair use to continue getting things done, best practices are an idea whose time has come.

So, without further ado, we give you five reasons fair use best practices are changing the world:

  1. They’re based on solid legal footing. Specifically, path-breaking research by copyright scholar Michael Madison. Madison surveyed over a century of fair use decision making and found that, over and over again, courts determining whether a use was fair inquired into the mission and values of the communities standing before them to vindicate their fair use rights. Uses firmly grounded in the socially beneficial mission of a practice community were much more likely to be blessed as fair.

    Each code starts from that insight, together with the dominant paradigm of “transformative use” that informs court decisions in fair use. The community norms developed on this foundation are then further shored up by a legal review by five independent experts from diverse backgrounds who certify that the Code represents a reasonable application of fair use law to the practice area. Practices consistent with the Documentary Filmmakers Code have been blessed by federal courts, as have practices identified as fair in the #Librarianscode. Indeed, between Georgia State and HathiTrust, the practices described in four of the eight principles in the #librarianscode have been blessed by federal courts.

  2. They clear away the crud. Anyone who engages with copyrighted material for more than a few minutes will encounter a dizzying array of so-called ‘guidelines,’ rules of thumb, ‘negotiated’ agreements, and urban myths and legends that proliferate around copyright. The goal of best practices is to identify the best approaches to recurring fair use scenarios, rather than to measure the lowest common denominator of the status quo and freeze it in amber forever. Therefore, developing best practices is an opportunity for communities to step back and question current practice in light of the latest developments in fair use law and the broadest, deepest understanding of the mission of the community. Librarians, for example, categorically rejected the arbitrary numerical limits in the 1976 Classroom Photocopying Guidelines. On reflection, they were simply impossible to justify in light of the actual needs of librarians and the contours of modern fair use law.

  3. They make the law less alien, and rights less scary. By grounding fair use choices in practices and norms that are native to a community, best practices change attitudes toward fair use. People with a Code go from a kind of grudging, fearful “compliance” with an alien copyright law imposed from above to a unified exercise of core First Amendment rights that emerges from their own values. Teachers, librarians, filmmakers, and poets who used to feel like they were acting alone in the face of an intimidating body of law come to understand that they are actually engaged collectively in legitimate, lawful acts that are normal, indeed essential, for their profession.

  4. They help you get things done. The bottom line for any group with a shared mission and goals is whether they are able to advance mission and achieve goals. Where myth, misinformation, fear, uncertainty, and doubt dominate, any number of important projects and practices can be suppressed, driven underground, or stymied altogether. Films don’t get made, or they don’t get distribution; poems aren’t written or published; works languish in archives inaccessible to remote or print-disabled researchers. Best practices are relentlessly pragmatic and mission-centered; through them, practitioners articulate fair use solutions to real, live problems. When the community takes best practices seriously, real work gets done—work that might otherwise have been inconceivable.

  5. They help you get management on board. Almost everyone has a supervisor, counselor, or other gatekeeper who decides what projects they can pursue, whether their work will see the light of day, and so on. Whether it’s a Dean, a TV producer, or a publishing agent, sooner or later you’ve got to convince someone else that what you’re doing is legit. Understandably, gatekeepers are often expected (forced, even) to play the role of “copyright cop,” saying “no” to any project that looks like it might raise an eyebrow.

    Before best practices, each practitioner would face these folks alone, often as non-lawyers, and try to convince them to take a risk based on, well, who knows what. But with best practices in hand, practitioners can go to their Deans, their publishers, their producers, whomever, and say, “What I’m doing is normal. It’s grounded in the values of my community. And it’s in line with a document that’s been vetted by experts and endorsed by leading organizations in my field.” That’s powerful stuff! No wonder the Documentary Filmmakers code has been so transformative, as has the #Librarianscode, and many many others.

So, there you have it. As Copyright Week winds down and we contemplate the copyright system we have, and the opportunities for change and improvement, we submit that fair use best practices are, by far and away, the most accessible, effective, and powerful tool in the hands of the public.

For more information, check out the full roster of best practices at the Center for Media and Social Impact and check out Pat and Peter’s book, Reclaiming Fair Use.

Most the archives I’ve worked in over the past few years have allowed unlimited digital photography. I camp out at a desk and shoot hundreds of images each day.
From a blog post this summer - My Quirky Workflow | Zachary M. Schrag. File under community practices for copying and scholarship!
New Infographic: Good News in Fair Use for Libraries

A new infographic released today tells the story of library fair use and the Code of Best Practices in a clear and compelling way. There’s an embeddable PNG for your own blogs, and there’s also a print-ready 8.5” x 11” version in case you need hardcopies to hand out at events.

Best Practices Infographic

The ARL Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries has been around for a year and a half, now, and we’ve seen how it’s changing practice around the country. The Code team has been on a whirlwind tour doing in-person events and webcasts to promote the Code all over the country. Now it’s time for library fair use enthusiasts to help spread the word, and this infographic is a powerful tool that can help pique interest in the Code itself and the overall story of how fair use has evolved to become a powerful users’ right. Share the link, embed the image on your site, print some copies for your next event, and help us keep moving libraries forward on this vital issue!

Twelve (count ‘em!) briefs filed in support of HathiTrust - who filed?

The Library Copyright Alliance brief is one of twelve amicus briefs filed this week in support of the HathiTrust and its partner libraries. Other filers are:

  • the American Association of Universities, American Council on Education, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and several other higher ed associations

  • The University of Illinois, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, Northwestern University, Pennsylvania State University, and Purdue University

  • Large numbers of disability rights organizations and advocates, including the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), American Council of the Blind, National Association of the Deaf, and the Disability Rights Legal Center, as well Marilyn Chafee, an advocate for dyslexic persons and daughter-in-law of Sen. John Chafee (author of the Chafee Amendment) - these groups filed two briefs across two sub-groups

  • Benetech (Bookshare) and Learning Ally (the leading providers of accessible audio and e-books) (brief prepared pro bono by Brandon Butler)

  • 133 Academic Authors

  • Over 100 digital humanities scholars

  • 22 Law Professor Experts in Disability Law

  • Six leading medical historians

  • Stanford University

  • The Emory Vaccine Center

  • The Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Knowledge

In GSU Amicus, LCA Invokes Best Practices, Dispels Market Myths

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) filed a friend of the court brief today in support of Georgia State University in the appeal of Cambridge U. Press et al. v. Mark P. Becker et al. In its brief, LCA argues that GSU’s e-reserves policy is consistent with widespread and well-established best practices for fair use at academic and research libraries, and that these uses have no negative effects on scholarship. LCA is represented by Jonathan Band and attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The case is on appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

The case began in 2008 when Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Publishers sued GSU for alleged copyright infringement. The publishers argued that GSU’s use of excerpts from copyright-protected materials in password-protected course e-reserves and class sites was a violation of the copyright law. Notably, the Association of American Publishers and the Copyright Clearance Center, the licensing arm for much of the academic publishing industry, organized and funded the lawsuit.

In May 2012, Judge Orinda Evans of the U.S. District Court in Atlanta ruled in favor of the university in a lengthy decision that reviewed each of 75 alleged infringements, finding only 5 infringing uses. In her ruling, the Judge saw little evidence of market harm to the publishers, and clearly understood that current teaching practices were beneficial to teachers and students, as well as being reasonable and fair. Because of GSU’s overwhelming victory, and the publishers’ aggressive litigation strategy, Judge Evans ordered the publishers to pay GSU’s attorneys’ fees and costs (nearly $3 million), an important ruling that could help discourage future aggressive lawsuits against good faith fair users.

Now that the issues are narrowed and clarified on appeal, LCA is one of several groups filing on the side of GSU in a striking show of solidarity across the academic community. The American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries, and the American Association of University Professors, among others, are all represented in briefs defending the fair use rights of faculty, students, and librarians.

In Reclaiming Fair Use, Peter Jaszi and I cautioned against using anecdotes from unusual situations to guide behavior in far more routine decisions about free expression. We think this is a case in point. Remix culture is on a lot firmer legal ground than Andy’s horrendous experience leads him to say.
Pat Aufderheide, responding to Andy Baio’s widely-circulated presentation “The New Prohibition,” in her blog post Fair Use Fearmongering, from Friends?