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Cambridge University Press v. Patton

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
769 F.3d 1232 (2014)


The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (the board) (defendant) and administrators at Georgia State University (GSU) (defendant) implemented a policy for determining when distributing excerpts of copyrighted works, such as textbooks, to students would constitute fair use. The policy was used to determine when digital copies could be made available to students free of charge. Under the policy, professors were required to use a checklist of factors to consider under each of the statutory fair-use factors. Cambridge University Press (Cambridge), Oxford University Press (Oxford), and Sage Publications, Inc. (Sage) (plaintiffs) publish academic textbooks. The plaintiffs, through the Copyright Clearance Center, enabled users to license the use of portions of some textbooks, either electronically or by making photocopies. There were significantly more books that allowed for the licensing of photocopies than for digital copies. Only some titles had digital licensing available. Less than 1 percent of revenues for the plaintiffs came from licensing excerpts of the books in 2009. The plaintiffs sued the board and administrators (plaintiffs) at GSU for copyright infringement. The district court determined that there was an issue as to whether fair use applied for 78 claims of infringement, but only conducted individual analyses for the fair-use factors for seven claims. The court decided the remaining 71 claims based on a mechanical approach applying generalized determinations for each of the four factors. The plaintiffs appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Tjoflat, J.)

Concurrence (Vinson, J.)

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