In a filing late last week, the U.S. Department of Justice said it will not file an amicus brief after all in the appeal of the Georgia State e-reserves case. The decision not to intervene in the contentious case comes after U.S. attorneys in late January asked the court for more time to consider filing an amicus "in support of [the publishers], or in support of neither party."
The U.S. filing had raised concerns that the DoJ, at the urging of the U.S. Copyright Office, was considering taking a position in support of publishers' bid to overturn a major fair use ruling against them on appeal. A DoJ amicus filing in the case would have been an unusual occurrence. Attorneys PW spoke to said it was exceedingly rare for the DoJ to file amicus briefs in copyright cases at this stage, and perhaps unprecedented in fair use cases.
The appeal of the case, Cambridge University Press et al v. Patton et al, now continues.
Filed on behalf of three academic publishers, (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage Publications) and supported by the AAP and with costs partially underwritten by the Copyright Clearance Center, it alleges that GSU administrators systematically encouraged faculty to commit copyright infringement via GSU’s e-reserve systems as a no-cost alternative to traditional coursepacks.
In a May 11 verdict , however, Judge Evans found GSU liable on just five of 99 counts presented at trial. Evans' final order for relief, filed on August 10, 2012, rejected the publishers’ request for a sweeping proposal for relief and, in a rebuke to publishers, ordered them to pay $2.8 million is defendants’ attorneys’ costs.
The publishers contend that Evans’ ruling “shifts radically from long-accepted fair use principles.” In their appeal brief, filed with the appeals court last month week, publisher attorneys again blasted that verdict. “The district court’s disregard of fundamental precepts of copyright law led it to try a different case than the one brought, and to resolve that different case erroneously,” the brief states, adding that the publishers “presented the district court with an undisputed record of GSU’s systematic, unauthorized copying and distribution of substantial excerpts from their copyrighted works.”