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UNYSLA Fall Recap – Georgia on My Mind

By Jessica Stewart

Late morning brought to light the decisions of the Beck v. Cambridge University lawsuit between Georgia State University (GSU) and three publishers including Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Sage Publishing, and the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC).

Returning for a second year to discuss the recent decision issued in a 350-page document analyzing each article in question was Philip Frankel, attorney with the law firm Bond Shoeneck & King here in Syracuse, NY. For those of you familiar with the fair use doctrine, you know that each fair use lawsuit must be examined on a case-by-case basis using the four factors of fair use (See In this case, Mr. Frankel explained that the publishers needed to (1) prove ownership of copyright for each item and (2) prove that GSU had copied without authorization. GSU needed to prove that they had infringed under fair use for every book and article in question, which was about ninety-nine items under the publishers’ initial claims. The publishers, however, had failed to provide evidence of copyright ownership for about one third of the claims, which as a result led the court to allow only seventy-four items for their analysis.

In response to an attendee’s question, Mr. Frankel discussed the guidelines created for the copying of classroom materials under the fair use doctrine. Mr. Frankel explained that these guidelines were originally written with respect to word count. No more than 2,500 words of articles were to be copied, no more than 1,000 words for prose or ten percent of the total piece, and no more than one cartoon illustration was to be used under fair use. The courts in 1976, however, refused these guidelines and developed the ten percent or one chapter rule for all print texts. For instance, in the case of GSU, the courts analyzed the “The Craft of Inquiry.” The analysis reflected that only 6.25% was infringed upon by GSU, which was less than the 10% under the court’s rule. Mr. Frankel mentioned how arbitrary this ruling is, and based on many attendees’ reactions they couldn’t have agreed more.

If courts use arbitrary rules written within guidelines not included in the statutes of the U.S. Copyright Law or the amendments made like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), why would we expect the general public to respect these statutes? Courts have upheld U.S. Copyright Law for the last several centuries, but can the courts keep up with the rapid evolution of technology? We continue to see publishers bringing digital libraries and electronically published texts under the scrutiny of the courts as they examine the fair use doctrine of the U.S. Copyright Act. In cases like GSU, HathiTrust, and Google Books we continue to hope for breathing room as our libraries continue to embrace the wild west of electronic publishing, digital libraries, and open access. In the words of Dr. K. Matthew Dames who visited later in the afternoon, “This is it. At present, this is the most interesting time in our history for copyright law, and specifically in publishing.” What will you do to get your library involved?

For more see Jill Hurst-Wahl’s post:


Jessica Stewart with UNYSLA President Elect, Jim Del Rosso

Jessica Stewart is currently pursuing her Masters of Science degree in Library and Information Science with a specialization in School Media at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University and graduating in May 2013. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communications, Jessica worked as a coordinator in feature film production in Los Angeles before returning to school. With a passion for educating today’s youth and professionals in and out of the library field, her interests include primary source instruction, digital libraries, web design, video production, digital and written storytelling, Internet safety, and copyright law (specifically fair use).

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