Clinic files amicus curiae brief in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a major educational fair use case on behalf of professors

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Today, the USC Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic filed an amicus curiae brief in the Eleventh Circuit in the case Cambridge University Press, et al v. Mark Becker, et al. The brief was filed on behalf of American Association of University Professors, International Communication Association, Modernist Studies Association, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and Professors Peter Decherney and Tsitsi Jaji of University of Pennsylvania.

In the district court case (Cambridge University Press v. Becker), several publishers brought dozens of copyright infringement claims against Georgia State University (GSU). The publishers argue that GSU’s professors are infringing on their copyright when professors post excerpts of copyrighted materials on electronic course reserves–websites that allow professors to interact with, and distribute materials, to students enrolled in their courses. The court held that, in the majority of the instances, the professors’ use of electronic course reserves did not infringe on the plaintiff’s copyrights and that many of the uses constitute fair use.

The publishers appealed the district court’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. On behalf of four national organizations and two professors–together representing over 48,500 professors, scholars, and media professionals–the Clinic filed a brief as amicus curiae asking the Court of Appeals to acknowledge that fair use protects key pedagogical activities. These activities, such as using copyrighted materials for criticism and commentary, are critically important to the educational mission because they add new meaning to the original works and grow our collective knowledge. The  great weight of case law supports that such uses are quintessentially transformative and highly likely to be fair use.

A copy of the brief can be found here.

 

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