Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Impact of the Georgia State University Copyright Ruling: One Lawyer's Take

At the Chronicle of Higher Education, a copyright lawyer weighs in on a recent district court opinion's application to his own work. Says attorney Zick Rubin in part about Judge Orinda Evans' ruling in the Georgia State case,

[T]hree of the four determining factors for fair use come out in the "fair" direction: First, Professor McClain is assigning my chapter for nonprofit educational purposes, not for commercial gain; second, although some have said that Liking and Loving reads like a novel, it is a factual and—ahem!—scientific work; third, the portion that is being copied is only one chapter out of 10 and makes up only a small proportion of the book's pages.

The only factor that tilts in the "unfair" direction is the fact that, thanks mainly to the work of the copyright center, there is a readily available licensing market for photocopying excerpts of my book. In 3-to-1 cases like this one, Judge Evans determined that Georgia State's copying was fair use and required no permission at all. Out of some 75 instances that the court considered, the judge found only five to be infringements—and each of them involved the use of two or more chapters of a book. Although the Georgia State case involved electronic course reserves, not photocopies, the same fair-use calculus applies.


As a result, Mr. Rubin says he doesn't mind that professors continue to assign a limited number of pages from his copyrighted works to their students, and he doesn't think they need to ask his permission, or pay royalties. According to him, the ruling is in line with the spirit of the Copyright Clause.

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