Publishers Take Action Against Georgia State University Copyright Infringement

Suit filed in Atlanta Federal Court

Apr 16, 2008, 01:00 ET from Association of American Publishers

    ATLANTA, April 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A group of publishers late
 yesterday filed suit in federal court to stop widespread copyright
 infringement at Georgia State University (GSU). The complaint, filed by
 Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and SAGE Publications
 and supported by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), charges that
 GSU officials are violating the law by systematically enabling professors
 to provide students with digital copies of copyrighted course readings
 published by the plaintiffs and numerous other publishers without those
 publishers' authorization. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to bring an
 end to such practices, but does not seek monetary damages.
     The lawsuit asserts "pervasive, flagrant, and ongoing" unauthorized
 distribution of copyrighted materials, despite attempts to reach an
 amicable and mutually acceptable solution without the need for litigation.
 GSU distributes the unauthorized materials through its electronic course
 reserves service, its Blackboard/WebCT Vista electronic course management
 system, and its departmental web pages and hyperlinked online syllabi
 available on websites and computer servers controlled by GSU. U.S.
 copyright law applies to digital course offerings as it does to paper
 offerings, and does not distinguish between different methods of
     While many U.S. colleges and universities work with university presses
 and other publishers to ensure their uses of published materials are in
 accordance with U.S. copyright law, the lawsuit states that GSU has flatly
 rebuffed efforts to reach similar agreements.
     "University presses are integral to the academic environment, providing
 scholarly publications that fit the needs of students and professors and
 serving as a launch pad from which academic ideas influence debate in the
 public sphere," said Niko Pfund, Vice-President of Oxford University Press.
 "Without copyright protections, it would be impossible for us to meet these
 needs and provide this service."
     "Publishers must protect their interests and those of their authors
 when they believe that this spirit of cooperation--and the law itself--is
 being willfully and blatantly violated," said Pfund. "We take this action
 in sorrow, not in anger, as we consider universities, librarians, scholars,
 and presses to exist in the same, mutually supportive ecosystem, and
 believe librarians especially to be among our most important publishing
     "Of all places, we would expect universities to respect laws protecting
 intellectual property and to instill their students with such respect,"
 said Frank Smith of Cambridge University Press. "One of the key values
 underpinning teaching and research in colleges and universities is the
 responsibility to credit academic work to its creator; and any attempt to
 take credit for work that is not your own is widely viewed as unacceptable.
 We think the majority of faculty would recognize that the same principles
 apply in respecting copyright law and the work of fellow authors and that
 these principles apply in the digital world, just as in the print world."
     "Respect for copyright law is integral to the higher education
 process," said Patricia Schroeder, AAP President and CEO. "It provides the
 basis for publishing operations of university presses and scholarly
 societies, and makes possible the contributions of innumerable other
 authors and publishers to the educational process. Georgia State
 University's disregard for basic copyright protections undermines this very
     "AAP members and the publishing industry recognize the advantages of
 making course content available electronically for students, and offer
 licensing and permissions processes designed to allow such uses on a
 cost-effective basis," continued Schroeder. "We are simply asking Georgia
 State University to take the necessary measures to respect the law."
     A copy of the complaint may be found on AAP's website,
     Cambridge University Press
     Cambridge University Press, the publishing house of the University of
 Cambridge, is one of the world's largest academic publishers and is
 acclaimed for its list of journals, research monographs, and textbooks in
 subjects from medicine and law to literature and classics. The American
 branch of Cambridge, founded in 1949 and headquartered in New York,
 publishes 500 academic books annually and imports more than 700 additional
     Oxford University Press
     Oxford University Press, Inc. (OUP, Inc.) is affiliated with Oxford
 University Press in the United Kingdom (OUP-UK), a department of Oxford
 University. OUP, Inc. is a nonprofit publisher and the largest university
 press in the U.S. OUP, Inc.'s diverse publishing program includes scholarly
 works in all academic disciplines, Bibles, music, school and college
 textbooks, business and economic books, online scholarly resource sites,
 dictionaries and reference books, and academic journals. OUP, Inc. produces
 approximately 500 new titles a year, of which about half are scholarly
 research monographs, and imports close to 800 titles from OUP-UK and other
 branch offices around the world.
     SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and
 electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since
 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars,
 practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject
 areas including business, humanities, social sciences and science,
 technology and medicine. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices
 in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, and Singapore.
     Association of American Publishers
     The Association of American Publishers is the national trade
 association of the U.S. book publishing industry. AAP's more than 300
 members include most of the major commercial publishers in the United
 States, as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses
 and scholarly societies. AAP members publish hardcover and paperback books
 in every field, educational materials for the elementary, secondary,
 postsecondary, and professional markets, scholarly journals, computer
 software, and electronic products and services. The protection of
 intellectual property rights in all media is among the Association's
 highest priorities.

SOURCE Association of American Publishers