Publishers Sue Georgia State U. for Copyright Infringement

April 16, 2008

Three scholarly publishers — Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and SAGE Publications — sued George State University in federal court on Tuesday, alleging “systematic, widespread, and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works.”

The complaint focuses on course reading materials that are digitally distributed through “a variety of online systems and outlets” run by Georgia State.

The publishers allege that Georgia State has “facilitated, enabled, encouraged, and induced professors” to use those systems to distribute “many, if not all, of the assigned readings for a course” in a manner that far exceeds fair use.

University officials have so far declined to comment on the allegations, according to The New York Times, which reported on the lawsuit this morning.

E-reserves and other digital means of distributing copyrighted material have become an increasingly sore subject for publishers. In a statement supporting the publishers’ action, the Association of American University Presses noted that electronic distribution of books and journals “has become a significant problem for university presses, who depend upon the income due them to continue to publish the specialized scholarly books required to educate students and to advance university research.”

The Association of American Publishers also supports the lawsuit. —Jennifer Howard