Georgia State Copyright Infringement Suit Coverage and Commentary

Here's a selection of news articles and Weblog postings about the Georgia State copyright infringement lawsuit.

"Coursepack Sharing: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?": John Mark Ockerbloom, who maintains The Online Books Page, looks at the suit from an open access point of view. He says:

But in a world that's brought us global content sharing systems like Flickr, CiteULike, and PubMedCentral, it's not that much of a stretch to imagine systems that would let instructors provide and share open access course readings more readily. A well-designed, browsable and searchable repository of such readings could provide a convenient way for professors to upload, organize, and disseminate open coursepacks for their students ("Just go to the OpenCoursePacks website, and type in the name of my course", they could say). The same site could also let profs could tag, annotate, and recommend their readings, thereby making it that much easier for other professors to find and include suitable open access content in their own coursepacks. With a good design, and suitable scale and interest, a coursepack sharing site could make a lot more good instructional material widely and freely used and shared.

"Georgia State Sued For Copyright Infringement": Information Media Partners supports the suit and provides an interesting comment about publishers' fear of entering the "valley of death" of the print-to-electronic transition.

"Oxford, Cambridge and Sage Sue Georgia State": Paul N. Courant, University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan, reacts to the suit. In summary, he says:

Things have come to a pretty pass when academic institutions sue each other over academic matters. Even if the publishers prove to be right on the merits, the lawsuit ought to be the last resort, and student use of academic materials produced by academic institutions ought be priced at something like marginal cost, rather than at the price that maximizes profit. And one wonders why three rich and distinguished institutions would go after an urban university that is much less well-resourced.

"A Press Revolt against E-Packet Practices": Andy Guess' Inside Higher Ed article overviews the suit, provides background information about prior communications between GSU and the plaintiff’s law firm, notes that the suit indicates that the e-reserves system wasn't restricted access until after a complaint to the university, and includes a call from Kenneth C. Green, director of the Campus Computing Project, for a iTunes-like system for scholarly material.

"Publishers Sue Georgia State for Copyright Infringement": Calvin Reid's Publisher's Weekly article overviews the suit and includes comments by Patricia Schroeder (AAP President and Chief Executive Officer), Allan Adler (AAP Vice President, Legal and Governmental Affairs), and Niko Pfund (Oxford University Press Vice President).

"Publishers Sue Georgia State University Over E-Reserves": Andrew Albanese's Library Journal article overviews the suit and includes comments by Pfund as well as a useful brief recap of prior e-reserves disputes and resolutions. (For more background, see Albanese's 2007 article "Down with E-Reserves: Confusing, Contentious, and Vital, E-Reserves Fuel Higher Education—And an Ongoing Copyright Battle.") Albanese notes that the "suit offers a remarkably detailed view of what the plaintiffs believe to be infringing activity at GSU, including specific examples of uses it considers to be well beyond the scope of fair use and a detailed appendix of alleged infringed materials."

"Trying to Sue State U": Kevin Smith, Scholarly Communications Officer at Duke University, analyzes the suit, weaving in an analysis of a recent case of state sovereign immunity and copyright infringement (discussed here in "Copyright Infringement Liability of State Employees"). In summary, Smith says:

A little bit of attention to the economics of scholarly publishing quickly undermines the claim in this complaint that, without permission fees for electronic reserves, the incentive system of copyright will be undermined. No monetary incentive currently exists for the vast majority of academic publishing, from the point of view of faculty, yet academics keep writing. There is no evidence at all that this well of free content will suddenly go dry if publishers are not able to collect an additional income stream from that well. If this suit goes forward in spite of sovereign immunity, that should be the issue on which the court focuses its attention.

For further reactions, see Jennifer Howard's "Librarians React to Lawsuit Against Georgia State U."