American Geophysical Union v. Texaco results from a class action suit brought by six scientific publishers on behalf of other publishers registered with the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). In July 1992, a US District judge ruled in the seven-year old copyright case that a Texaco scientist violated the US Copyright Law (Section 107) when he copied articles without providing the appropriate fee to the publishers. Texaco argued that the copying fell within fair use. The court ruled that the profit motive of the company was a relevant consideration in the analysis of the purpose of the use. They also found against Texaco in considering the amount of the work used focusing on the article as the "whole work" rather than the journal it came from. They also found that the market was affected because Texaco could have paid royalties through the CCC.
In 1994, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the lower court decision. In April 1995, Texaco petitioned the US Supreme Court to review the case. On May 15, 1995, Texaco and a steering committee representing the publishers announced that they have agreed upon terms to settle the case.
The Association of Research Libraries and 14 other academic and library organizations joined together to submit amicus, or friend of the court, briefs in this case to elucidate and reaffirm the fair use rights that the Copyright law prescribes for scholars and researchers in the pursuit of research and education. ARL's interest in this case reflects the Association's long-standing position as an advocate of the public interest in copyright, and in maintaining a balance between the rights of the copyright owner and the rights of the user.
Texaco, which conceded no wrongdoing in the proposed settlement, will pay a seven figure settlement and retroactive licensing fee to the CCC. In addition, Texaco will enter into standard annual license agreements with the CCC during the next five years.