I have a question about copyright law and have been unable to find out the answer. Twice now professors have photocopied an entire book I wrote, to use as a class textbook. Each made 30 to 40 copies, which they gave to their students. Because copyright law mentions “educational institutions”, I’m not sure if this is considered “fair use” or not.
The situation described by JB is in my opinion a clear violation. The use described does not appear to be a “fair use” as it is defined in the US Copyright Act. In addition, the facts as presented suggest that the infractions have taken place within an academic environment that may subject not only the offending professors, but their institutions, to liability for something on the order of 60 to 80 total and continuing infringements. Infringing acts are usually counted separately and damages are many times fixed in the aggregate. There is a ton of case law on this issue involving just this sort of infraction. But, JB should consider consulting an attorney who can more thoroughly examine the specific facts more closely than we are able to in this brief discussion forum.
For more information on Fair Use, read my article in today’s issue of WritersWeekly.com:
All’s Fair in Love and…Hey! Wait a Minute! That’s Mine! A Brief Discussion on FAIR USE
Editor’s Note: Neil Wilkinson is a practicing attorney and holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Kennesaw, Georgia, and Master of Laws (LL.M.) from the University of Georgia School of Law. Neil is also an adjunct professor of Intellectual Property Law in the MBA program at the KSU Michael Coles School of Business.