75 Use Without Permission
May 7, 1997
USE WITHOUT PERMISSION
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal from a Michigan copy
shop which has been arguing in court that compiling excerpts to sell to students for
assigned reading was "fair use" and required neither permission nor fee. In one case
the "excerpt" was 30% of a book.
This action upholds a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that articles and book
chapters may only be used in university coursepacks if permission has been granted by
the copyright owner, and that "commercial exploitation of the copyrighted materials did
not constitute fair use."
The copy shop was sued by three publishers. Last year, in an unusual author-publisher
alliance the Authors Registry, the Authors Guild, the American Society of Journalists
and Authors and the Text and Academic Authors Association filed a brief in support of
the publisher plaintiffs.
Now, perhaps publishers and authors can get down to settling the question of just who
should be granting permission and accepting the fees. Authors maintain that some
publishers, acting directly or through the Copyright Clearance Center, either grant
re-print permission without authority or fail to divide re-use fees with authors, even
when required to do so by contract.
The original story on this case appeared in the January 1997 issue of TAKING STOCK on
See related Photocopying Books story.