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Copyright Lawsuit against Georgia State University
April 15, 2008 Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Sage Publications filed a copyright infringement suit against four Georgia State University officials alleging "systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works."
  Copyright Lawsuit against Georgia State University
July 24, 2008 Georgia State University, appearing in U. S. District Court in Atlanta, asserted that its online distribution of course material is permitted under copyright law's fair-use exemption in this closely watched case
  Copyright Lawsuit against Georgia State University

In a closely watched copyright-infringement lawsuit, three publishers (Sage Publishing, Cambridge University Press, and Oxford University Press) charged Georgia State University (GSU) in April, 2008 with copyright infringement for allowing students to download "course packs" from the University web site. The publishers charged that the packs allow students to illegally download and print readings from thousands of copyrighted works.

In July, 2008, GSU responded in U.S. District Court in Atlanta to the publishers, asserting that the online distribution of course material is permitted under copyright law's fair-use exemption. The university admitted 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. But the university says the practice is allowed under the fair-use doctrine of the Copyright Act. In addition to advancing its fair-use argument, the university also says it is protected from federal lawsuits under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a doctrine known as state sovereign immunity.

A "fair use" exception exists in the current copyright law. This exception includes limiting the amount of what is copied and making sure it does not affect the market for the published material. The GSU course packs typically contain compilations of materials. Some of the packs, according to the lawsuit, include multiple chapters from books and large excerpts from other published works.

Fair use is a vague area of copyright law. It generally allows use of copyrighted material without seeking permission from the owner if the material is used for scholarship, teaching, or review, but fair-use guidelines also advise people to consider the amount of material they're copying in deciding whether to seek owners' permission. The publishers have argued that Georgia's dissemination of online material was "systematic" and "widespread," and involved "vast amounts of copyrighted work," and therefore fell outside the scope of fair use.

The publishers are asking a judge to order Georgia State to stop distributing course material in that way. The lawsuit could have far-reaching consequences for colleges throughout the country and how they disseminate course material. Publishers, authors and colleges have struggled for years about colleges making publishers' copyrighted material available to students for free.

SAGE Publications is a leading international publisher of journals, books and electronic media for academic, educational and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers and students. SAGE Publications, a privately held corporation, has principal offices in Thousand Oaks, California and in London, England.

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