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Local Lawsuit, Research Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1150

Research Paper

The court system has been used for years to settle legal matters and resolve disputes. Given that we live in such a litigious society people sue for a multitude of reasons. This can range from a landlord suing for rent owed or a person suing an employer for injuries sustained while on the job. Another common lawsuit involves disputes over intellectual property such as copyright infringement. According to www.copyright.gov copyright infringement is reported to have taken place in the situation that a certain copyrighted work has been reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without permission of the copyright owner. Notably, Colleges and Universities copy and distribute reading materials for students and with this reproduction they may be in violation of copyright laws. This paper will uncover the lawsuit filed by various publishers accusing Georgia State University (GSU) of copyright infringement.

A lawsuit was filed in April 2008 by Cambridge University Press, Oxford Press, and Sage Publications with accusations that GSU was involved in a systematic widespread unauthorized copying and distribution of their copyrighted materials (Pike, 2010). These claims stemmed from GSU’s use of the online platform Blackboard to share and distribute electronic versions of these aforementioned companies’ materials. The plaintiffs claim that since these materials were being copied and not purchased individually by the students the companies felt they lost potential profit. In addition the publishers said “that they lost substantial licensing revenue and that the materials substituted for both textbooks and course packs for which copyright permission is required” (Pike, 2010).

Discuss what management could have done in terms of risk management to have prevented the events that lead to the lawsuit.

Although Georgia State University did not feel like they were in violation of copyright infringement, they should have carefully reviewed what actions constitute this offense. They should ensure that their online sharing platform is in accordance with copyright laws. Georgia State University has the duty of understanding he types of risks associated with copyright. An possibility for paying a fee, facing a public embarrassment and a cessation of use of other peoples work that has not been cleared are all possibilities. To this fact, the assessment of potential risk would incorporate identification of the origin of materials and the possibility of the owner of the copyright to institute a legal action aiming at a copyright fee. Georgia State University should also assess its budget to ascertain its position of paying for the copyright fee relative to settling the dispute outside the court. The public consequences, emotional cost and the image of the institution should be part of risk assessment in issues of copyright. The effects to the staff of the institution along with the governing body should also be accounted for as is the time as well as the inconveniences related to the suit for infringement relative to the potential gains of using protected materials. Acquiring coverage of insurance is also a positive step of risk mitigation for the institution (Oppenheim, 2001).

Discuss the ethical considerations reflected in the laws applicable to this case.

Universities vehemently dissuade students from plagiarism and any other unlawful forms of copying the works of others without the appropriate attribution. In return as an Institution the University must uphold this same premise.  An ethical consideration would be if the University willing and knowingly violated to rights of these publishers. However GSU defended itself on several grounds, including fair use, acquiescence in its practices by the publishers, Section 108 of the Copyright Act governing copying by libraries, and the immunity from liability belonging to its status as a public institution (Pike, 2010). With that it would appear that they felt they were in compliance with the law and had no intent to copy unlawfully (Russell, 2004).

The use of materials in the academic institutions has been influenced to a great extent by emerging technologies and this is a fact that should be at the knowledge of staff and students at Georgia State University. As important ethical considerations at Georgia State University, it is important to appreciate the need for an equitable relationship when using educational materials. The creator of the materials anticipates achieving some returns for efforts put in this work. The recipient of the material including the general public on the other hand should be in a position of making use of the materials freely and without fear so as to create a situation of win-win, with nobody getting hurt and the rights of respective parties being respected (Oppenheim, 2001).

Determine which sources of law would be most relevant in this case and how management could leverage knowledge of those sources to prevent similar instances in the future.

The authorities at the University must highlight the intricate nature of copyright laws and showcase how they are in compliance. As mentioned previously section 108 of Copyright Act which is applicable in libraries, the institution had the power to hold to this source of law to launch a strong defense based on a number of grounds. The strong points facilitated for by the low covers the issues of fair use and practices acquiescence in as far as the publisher was concerned. The institution could also take advantage of immunity which arises from liability as a result of its status of a public and recognized institution (Crews, 2000).

Based on a legal perspective, copyright materials should be accessed and specifically if they are intended to be used for education purposes but the doctrine of fair use must be upheld. It is also imperative to address legal as well as ethical issues in respect to permissions contract which must be accepted by depositors prior to publication and use of their materials (Oppenheim, 2001).

Recommend what management might be able to do to pursue alternate resolutions (outside of court).

The Plaintiffs in the case are requesting that GSU to consent to use of alternative resolution which was to be held outside the court. The amendment of the policies of the institution which govern the copying of information to be utilized in class work was seen as an amicable solution to the issue. According to the new policy, students, the staff as well as the entire faculty were informed as well as educated on issues of copyright law (George, 2010).  The policy was also meant to facilitate for a checklist which facilitated for the determination of the appropriateness or lack of it, of the copyright use. Through the checklist, a number of circumstances are presented which guide for or against the fair use of the material (Oppenheim, 2001).

References

Crews, K. D., (2000). Copyright Essentials for Librarians & Educators. Chicago: American       Library Association.

George H. P., (2010). “Summary Judgment Motions Filed in Georgia State Copyright Infringement   Lawsuit”. The Weekly News Digest. Available at          http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Summary-Judgment-Motions-Filed-in- Georgia-State-Copyright-Infringement-Lawsuit-66221.asp.  Accessed on Nov. 5, 2011.

Oppenheim, C., (2001). The Legal &Regulatory Environment for Electronic Information. 4th Ed.            U.K.: Tetbury.

Russell, C., (2004). Complete Copyright: An Everyday Guide for Librarians. ALA.

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