Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fair Use Copyright Lawsuit

Faulkner Press v. Class Notes  d/b/a/ “Einstein Notes”

There is an interesting lawsuit concerning copyright infringement pending in a Florida district court concerning the sharing of course information and may answer the question of whether sharing of course materials actually qualifies as fair use.

Professor Michael Moulton, a faculty member at University of Florida published an e-book version of his lectures notes and slides through Faulkner publishing.  He had also registered this information with the copyright office.  The lawsuit was filed after the lecture outlines and film study questions prepared by Professor Moulton were copied and packeted for resale by a local copy shop. The professor had transferred his copyrights in the materials to a publisher, who filed the infringement action. This past June, the district court ruled on the cross motions for summary judgment.  Recognizing that the text materials were protected by copyright, the court wrote:

“The parties have presented various arguments for and against a finding of fair use. Genuine issues of material fact remain for a jury to determine regarding fair use.”

The consequence of this case, much like the outcome in the Georgia State e-reserves lawsuit, has the possibility to greatly impact our understanding and application of fair use.  It will also impact the validity of sites similar to Course Hero and any other entity profiting from the sharing of course materials.

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