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Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:35 AM

 

Obama Administration Considers Joining Publishers In Fight To Stamp Out Fair Use At Universities

Okay, this is really quite unfortunate. 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." Current copyright law is explicit that fair use covers this sort of situation...

It would be a complete embarrassment for an Obama administration that has argued that improving our education system is a key policy issue to turn its back on education by having its Justice Department argue against a public university library and students, and in favor of a blatantly self-interested copyright collection agency, funding some foreign publishers, trying to shake down students for extra money to learn.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130131/00310621834/obama-administration-considers-joining-publishers-fight-to-stamp-out-fair-use-universities.shtml

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Reply Obama Administration Considers Joining Publishers In Fight To Stamp Out Fair Use At Universities (Original post)
HiPointDem Feb 2013 OP
JVS Feb 2013 #1
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #2
Buzz Clik Feb 2013 #4
Buzz Clik Feb 2013 #3
reformist2 Feb 2013 #5
Duppers Feb 2013 #10
Mustellus Feb 2013 #6
mtasselin Feb 2013 #7
woo me with science Feb 2013 #8
forestpath Feb 2013 #9

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:38 AM

1. My understanding of "Fair Use" is that copies are for personal or research uses and not to be...

used for money-making enterprises. Given the high rate that even public universities charge for class credit, I find the fair-use argument to be very disingenuous. Using the material to provide content for your class is about the most lucrative use of it I could imagine. It's not as though you can print up these articles and sell them on the street corner.

On the other hand, I've never heard of a university that didn't have some kind of library access fee in the students' bills. One of the things this money buys is subscriptions to various online databases and an Inter-Library loan system (In fact, if I want photocopies of a chapter of a book, inter-library loan is often quicker than ordering the book from storage) which goes through copyright clearance. So instead of arguing fair-use, I'd argue that these students have already purchased their access to the materials. Of course, this begs the issue of whether your professor can use the library on your behalf. Maybe it would be best to just email a list of persistent links to the articles.

I have noticed that JSTOR puts a time-stamp at the bottom of each page now. I suspect this is a step to be able to see if instructors are passing out copies.

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Response to JVS (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:48 AM

2. that's the *old* understanding. the new understanding is you pay for everything.

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:53 AM

4. Sounds horrible.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:52 AM

3. Do professors violate "fair use" on a regular basis?

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:55 AM

5. Time to dust off the old Xerox machine!

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Response to reformist2 (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 06:36 AM

10. My thoughts too.

K & R

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:04 AM

6. My three textbooks....

are print on demand. The price is vastly lower, and the return to the author much greater.

The dinosaurs of the publishing industry are fighting against the Cafe Book Press, which reads two pdf files, and three minutes later spits out a finished paperback book. No huge printing presses. No hot lead typsetting. No warehouses. No sales staff.

I don't agree that copyright / patents should be abolished. But the monopoly of those who own the presses is being busted.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:25 AM

7. MONEY

All you have to do is follow the money. This administration that I voted for twice has turned against the people and for not only corporations, but world corporations. Sad day in America.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:36 AM

9. As usual, the Obama administration goes to bat for the rich.

 

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