U.S. Copyright law is constantly evolving based on court rulings. The below cases are of particular note to academic institutions and faculty members.
In 1995, Texaco paid more than $1 million dollars to six publishers because a company researcher systematically made copies of scientific articles from a single-use subscription without obtaining permission from the publisher. That the research was for commercial gain, the court found that Texaco would probably not have purchased multiple copies of the journals, and the copies took the place of purchasing multiple copies (thereby competing with the publishers’ ability to collect license fees) all ruled against Fair Use.
Kinko’s in all paid about $2 million to several publishers for making and selling course packs. Kinkos made the copies, assembled the packs, and sold them without seeking permission for the copyrighted materials.
The Association for Information Media (AIME), a NY-based trade group, and AVP, an educational video publisher and one of AIME’s clients, sued UCLA for streaming videos for student use. The case has been thrown out. Twice. Notable in this case is that AIME and AVP are not the copyright holders.
This case involves several publishers suing several individuals at Georgia State for using copyrighted materials in e-reserves. Much has been written about the case as it has far reaching implications. An original ruling found mostly in favor of Georgia State, but appeals have been filed and oral arguments on the appeal have begun. The case is still ongoing as of July 27, 2017, when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal heard arguments.
This case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Supap Kirtsaeng, a graduate student at the University of Southern California had his friends and family buy hundreds of low-cost Asian editions of Wiley textbooks. He then had them shipped to the US and resold them. Wiley sued and lost. Wiley appealed and won. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kirtsaeng.
This case involves Google’s project to digitize millions of books in university libraries as well as those commercially available. The Author’s Guild sued, and the case was dismissed in New York district court. The Author’s Guild appealed, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of Google and Fair Use.