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Arnold and Susan Lutzker Publish Article on Court Decision on Fair Use of Digital Works

The lead article in the Summer 2012 edition of the AIME newsletter by Arnold and Susan Lutzker, “Cambridge University Press v. Becker:  Georgia on My Copyright Mind,”  discusses a recent fair use decision of  the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.  Although guidelines adopted by agreement of educators and publishers as part of the legislative history of the 1976 Copyright Act have guided faculty, administrators and students for decades in copying print works, there has been little agreement as to how these guidelines should apply to digital works. The article discusses the Georgia court’s lengthy and thoughtful answer to this question. The suit was brought in 2008 by a group of academic publishers, headed by Cambridge University Press, against officials and the Board of Regents of Georgia State University, challenging the University’s copyright policy and alleging that 75 specific e-reserve postings by professors in accordance with the policy constituted copyright infringement.  The University contended that the infringement claims were barred by the constitutional limitation of sovereign immunity and by the fair use doctrine.  Despite a generally favorable result for the University, the Court’s analysis contains some significant cautions to the application of the fair use doctrine in this context.