Sergey Nivens /
22 October 2014Copyright

New chapter in Oxford and Cambridge publishing row

A copyright dispute between UK publishers Oxford and Cambridge University Press and Georgia State University (GSU) looks set to roll on after an appeals court dismissed an earlier ruling.

The US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit dismissed a ruling from an Atlanta district court, which ruled that the GSU had infringed copyright belonging to the publishers by creating digital reserves of their books.

The latest decision means the case will now be sent back to the district court level for further deliberations.

In 2012, district judge Orinda Evans at the US District Court for the Northern District of Atlanta sided with the British publishers and ruled that GSU had violated copyright with its online courses known as e-reserves.

However, this applied to only five of 99 overall instances of infringement alleged by the plaintiffs, which also included Sage Publications.

The publishers appealed against the ruling and asked the 11th Circuit to consider the reasons behind Evans’s ruling, including the nature of use, the nature of the work being used, how much was used, and whether the use might affect the market for the work.

In a judgment published on Friday (October 17), the 11th circuit court unanimously agreed that Evans had used a “legally flawed methodology” to establish infringement of the copyright protected material.

The appeals court also vacated Evans’s decision to award injunctive relief and legal costs and fees to the publishers.

But, according to the judgment, the decision emphasised that the educational use of copyrighted material "provides a broader public benefit".

In a statement, Oxford University Press said it would “carefully examine” the court's opinion and will continue to work with the scholarly community to develop copyright policies and practices.

“We look forward to a revised ruling from the lower court that we hope will draw this litigation to a close,” it added.

GSU has yet to comment on the ruling.

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