Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What I learned about GSU's copyright case

I heard Phil Frankel, a Syracuse-based attorney, speak on Oct. 19 about the GSU court decision, which is now being appealed.  I don't think I can write a summary, but several things stand out to me:
  • The publishers had not done due diligence to determine if they owned the copyright on the articles that they had sued over.  A good chunk of articles were eliminate from the lawsuit because the publishers didn't own the copyright on them and thus did not have the right to include them in the lawsuit.
  • GSU had modified their process during the lawsuit to try to be more correct.  The judge then looked at more recent articles, rather then ones before GSU updated its policies.
  • The judge did not like the Fair Use check list that GSU was using.  The judge felt that a checklist could cause a person to make an incorrect decision.
  • The judge used guidelines developed in 1976 for classroom copying, which are not part of the law.  See http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ21.pdf  This is very interesting, since we know that guidelines limit what the law actually allows.
  • Finally, this is not over.  An appeal has been followed.  At the moment, while many we look to see what they might do differently in the wake of this decision, this does not set a national precedent.  The precedent it sets is technology only for that judge's jurisdiction.
Here is a link to the ARL issue brief on the case.  It seems to cover many of the points that Frankel made.

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