Document Type


Publication Date


Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Discovery, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning


The Federal District Court in the Georgia State University copyright case (Cambridge University Press v Becker) constructed a carefully defined, but expansive Fair Use “safe harbor”. Academic libraries and not-for-profit educational institutions can use this “safe harbor” to make copies of copyright-protected materials and distribute them to students in a carefully controlled manner. The decision requires safeguards to help ensure that copies do not get disseminated beyond their intended audience. It also gives more flexibility in cases where publishers do not make smaller excerpts readily available.

The Georgia State decision has been reported as allowing up to 10%,or a single chapter of a copyrighted work to be copied as “Fair Use”. This is an over-simplification of the court’s four factor “Fair Use” analysis. If one wishes to make wise, ethical decisions regarding the copying of copyrighted materials, one should have at least a general understanding of the four “Fair Use” factors and know how the court used them in the Georgia State case.

The librarian community should also understand that this area of the law is still in a state of flux. This is the first case of its kind and the Publishers have appealed the decision, so it still could be modified on appeal. Other courts could also take a different approach. Still, this is a landmark case that has set a pattern that other courts are likely to follow or react against. The pattern set by this court is one that should allow librarians to act with greater confidence when making reasonable “Fair Use” decisions.


Presented at the 2013 Annual Conference of the Association of Christian Librarians, June 2013, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, CA.