HomeFocus AreasCourt CasesCambridge Press v. Georgia State University

Cambridge Press v. Georgia State University

The case concerns the use at Georgia State University (GSU) of electronic course reserves and electronic course sites to make excerpts from academic books available online to students enrolled in particular courses. The named plaintiffs in the case are three academic publishers (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage), who argued that the unlicensed posting of digital excerpts for student access almost always exceeded fair use and should require a license.

The suit was filed in April 2008. The named defendants are officers and employees of Georgia State University (GSU). GSU had a fairly liberal policy on the use of e-reserves and course sites at the time the suit was first filed, but it substantially changed its policy in early 2009, adopting a fair use checklist as a way to guide professors’ decisions about what material to share with students under fair use. The checklist did not include specific percentages or page limits. The publishers initially brought three claims of infringement against GSU, but two of these claims were dismissed early on. Ultimately, the case turned on whether the 2009 GSU copyright policy had caused infringement of the plaintiff publishers’ copyrights. To determine the effect of the GSU policy, the judge asked the parties to assemble a list of the excerpts of plaintiffs’ works which had been posted on electronic reserves or course sites during two semesters following adoption of the new policy. The parties put together an initial list of 99 excerpts, but the publishers “voluntarily and unilaterally” submitted only 75 of the excerpts for the judge’s evaluation.


VIDEO: What Does the GSU Decision Mean for Libraries? (May 31, '12)

FAQs: How Might the GSU Decision Affect Librarians' Use of the Code? (May 30, '12) - need new link

ISSUE BRIEF: GSU Fair Use Decision Recap and Implications (PDF) (May 15, '12) 

Georgia State University Fair Use Order [PDF] (Sept. 30, '10) 

Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities [PDF] (May 15, '12) 

Letter to Tracey L. Armstrong re: Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) underwriting litigation [PDF] (Nov. 11, '10)




Coalition for Networked Information Logo
Library Copyright Alliance Logo
The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Logo