On Friday, October 17, 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued its ruling in the Georgia State University (GSU) case concerning the use of excerpts of academic books for electronic course reserves. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded the decision to the district court. In doing so, the court upheld the importance of the flexible application of fair use. Importantly, the Eleventh Circuit did not rule on whether each of the uses by GSU were fair uses or not, but instead found fault with the district court’s methodology, which used bright-line rules and an arithmetic approach (i.e., if three of the four factors favor fair use, then the use is fair). Assuming that litigation goes forward rather than the case being settled, the district court will need to revisit its fair use analysis, but could potentially again find that GSU’s uses were fair use for most of the works at issue.
For a more detailed analysis of the October 17 ruling, see “In Georgia State University E-Reserves Case, Eleventh Circuit Endorses Flexible Approach to Fair Use,” on the ARL Policy Notes blog.