Obama Adminstration Joining Overseas Publishers In Wanting To Kill Fair Use In The US?
Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 3, 2013
In 2011, we wrote about an important copyright case involving three publishers suing Georgia State University for daring to have “e-reserves” that allow professors to make certain works available to students electronically via the university library. Nancy Sims, copyright librarian for the University of Minnesota, wrote a guest post summarizing the case for us as follows:
The publisher-plaintiffs are suing over the way instructors (and possibly others on campus) share course readings like academic articles and excerpts from academic books. They are objecting both to readings posted on course websites (i.e., uploaded by instructors and accessible only to students registered for a course) and readings shared via “e-reserves” (i.e., shared online through university libraries, usually also with access restricted to students registered for the course). The publishers claim that sharing copies of readings with students is not usually a fair use, that faculty can’t really be trusted to make their own calls about what is or is not fair use, and that permissions fees should be paid for most of these uses.
Thankfully, last year, we wrote about how the district court issued an astounding 350-page ruling that basically said that most of these electronic reserves were clearly fair use. …
Of course, no matter what happened, the other side was going to appeal. We’re getting closer to the appeals court hearing the case, but something interesting popped up last week. In a somewhat surprising move, the Justice Department jumped in and asked the court for some more time for the filing of amicus briefs from concerned third parties, because it was considering weighing in on the case. The Justice Department? Why should it be interested in a dispute concerning whether or not public university libraries are engaged in fair use by making works available to students?
In digging into this, we’ve heard from a few sources that it’s actually the US Copyright Office that has asked the DOJ to weigh in on the side of the publishers and against the interests of public univerisities and students. Yes, the same Copyright Office that just promoted a former RIAA VP to second in command. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
Let’s be clear: it is flat out ridiculous that the Obama Administration may be supporting the publishers here. Two out of the three publishers are foreign publishing giants, and it would be supporting them against a public university library tasked with helping to educate students. The entire purpose of copyright law is supposed to be to promote the progress of learning. The copyright clause in the Constitution used “science” but back in that era “learning” and “science” were effectively synonymous. The very first Copyright Act in the US was actually titled “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning.”
Arrrrgh. Let’s shoot down this trial balloon, now.
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