Brandon Butler, Director of Public Policy Initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries has written an eight page Issue Brief discussing the recent ruling in the Georgia State case in some detail. The Executive Summary appears below:
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), but an early filing in the case confirmed that the lawsuit was in fact being funded 50% by the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) and 50% by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). The plaintiffs argued that the unlicensed posting of digital excerpts for student access almost always exceeded fair use and should require a license.
Although the decision is certainly not perfect (the use of bright line rules for appropriate amount under factor 3 is particularly troubling), Judge Evans has written a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the issues, and her opinion represents an overwhelming victory for Georgia State individually, a major defeat for the plaintiff publishers and for the AAP and CCC, and overall a positive development for libraries generally. The substance of the opinion is not ideal, but it is far more generous than the publishers have sought, it establishes a very comfortable safe harbor for fair use of books on e-reserve, and libraries remain free to take more progressive steps.