Friday, June 27, 2008

Georgia State copyright lawsuit

Georgia State University has not yet buckled under to the publishers that are suing it for copyright infringement. See the Chronicle of Higher Education's article here:

I had not previously seen any specifics on how Georgia State was sharing online material. I don't see how material shared through Blackboard or other content management systems that require students to log in and prove they are students can possibly be in violation of fair use. At least, not unless they are violating one of the other fair use principles and copying large portions of works or charging for it or something.

This statement from the Chronicle makes me a little concerned: "The university admits that it was offering the material online to students through the following means: electronic reserves in the library, the Blackboard/WebCT Vista course-management system, department Web pages, and other Web sites." Offering material on "department Web pages, and other Web sites" sounds a lot like putting material up for use by anyone who has web access, including non-students who are not necessarily eligible for free use privileges. Georgia State may have to revisit that policy when or if they settle this case. I don't see how they can really be held liable for access through Blackboard and Electronic Reserves.

I am happy that Georgia State is at least putting out the pretense that they will take this case to court. I had heard far too many lawyers suggest that this case was likely to be quickly settled since it didn't benefit either party very much to go to court. This is a case that will effect all academic institutions and I'd like to see libraries and their parent colleges and universities band together here to take a stand. The last thing I want to see is for this to go to court and for the publishers to win, establishing a precedent, but the next to last thing I want to see is that universities set the precedent of allowing publishers to quickly and easily bully them into submission.

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