November 12, 2020
Statement of the Association of American Publishers and Copyright Clearance Center Regarding Decision to End Georgia State “E-Reserves” Litigation
On behalf of its Board of Directors and membership, and together with Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Publishing, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) announced today that the publishers declined to file another appeal in Cambridge University Press v. Becker, thus bringing the long-running copyright infringement case to an end. We made this difficult decision after carefully considering well-established copyright precedent, including two authoritative decisions in this litigation from the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which reversed and vacated two prior decisions from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Following is a joint statement from Maria A. Pallante, AAP President and Chief Executive Officer, and Tracey Armstrong, President and Chief Executive Officer of CCC:
“After careful consideration, the plaintiffs, AAP, and CCC have decided to conclude, rather than appeal, the GSU “e-reserves” case, following 12 years of litigation regarding both the exclusive rights accorded to copyright owners under U.S. copyright law, and, relatedly, the appropriate limits of fair use in instances where licenses are available. We are pleased and satisfied that the Court of Appeals has issued two forceful rulings in the case, making clear that the kind of “nontransformative copying” undertaken by GSU poses a “severe threat of market harm” to publishers, and that such harm should be given “more significant weight in [the] overall fair use analysis” and “strongly disfavors” fair use where publishers have offered digital licenses for the material. The fact that such copying occurs in an educational setting does not ameliorate the “threat of market substitution,” the Court of Appeals held.
“The overarching objective of this litigation—to establish that institutions of higher learning cannot ignore copyright law by digitally copying and distributing significant excerpts from copyrighted course readings without a license, no matter how convenient—has been achieved. Despite the lower court’s latest decision, which is at odds with the Court of Appeals’ instructions, publishers are confident that the guidance from the Court of Appeals is clear and authoritative as to future actors, and that universities will maintain copyright policies and practices that are consistent with its rulings and well-established copyright jurisprudence.
“As we conclude this case, we note that these are extraordinary times marked by unprecedented challenges and opportunities, including for universities, and we are therefore more committed than ever to helping students, scholars, libraries, and the reading public to achieve learning and research success. Consistent with the fundamental mission of publishing, we will continue to make high-quality works of authorship and research widely available, and further serve our customers and the long-term public interest by investing in affordable and sustainable business models.”
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