The keenly watched copyright case that has pitted three academic publishers (Cambridge and Oxford University Presses and Sage)against Georgia State University has entered the appeals phase, with a flurry of filings and motions this week and more expected soon. One surprise motion has come from the U.S. Department of Justice, which has requested more time to consider filing an amicus brief either in support of the publishers or in support of neither party. The possibility that the government might weigh in triggered speculation and anxiety among some observers, including academic librarians worried that the Justice Department could sabotage educational fair use if it sides with the publishers against the university.
The case will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
In their brief, filed on Monday, the publishers argue that, if the lower court’s ruling stands, it will have implications that go far beyond Georgia State’s practices. The publishers content that e-reserves amount to course packs or anthologies of reading material. They claim Judge Evans’s decision “invites universities nationwide to accelerate the migration of course-pack creation from paper to electronic format” and to sidestep legal permission to use copyrighted content. That pattern of behavior could undercut “the efficient licensing markets that have evolved to serve the needs of academic users” which, in turn, “would threaten the ongoing ability of academic publishers to continue to create works of scholarship,” they argue.
The Association of American University Presses plans to file an amicus brief on behalf of publishers on Monday, February 4.