GSU legal victory may impact classroom learning

by: Sophia Choi Updated:

ATLANTA - Georgia State University recently won a historic case that will likely influence colleges and universities across the nation.

The case centers on new technology and copyright infringement.

"There really has not been any guidance in how to present information to students in a technological way, and this is the first case to really set precedent into how we can do that," said Kerry Heyward, an attorney for GSU.

Three publishers filed the original suit in April 2008, saying GSU's educators used too much textbook information in the electronic packets given to students for free. The trial began in May 2011 in the U.S. District Court of Atlanta. A year later, Judge Orinda Evans finally issued her decision in a 350-page ruling, largely in favor of GSU.

"Not only did we win, but it was a big win" Heyward told Channel 2's Sophia Choi.

Heyward was referring to the nearly $3 million in legal fees the judge also awarded to GSU.

Heyward said the decision lays out just how much constitutes fair use.

"If a work is 10 chapters or more, then we can provide up to one chapter in our e-system. If it's less than 10 chapters, you can provide 10 percent" said Heyward.

Already, the publishers are appealing the decision. In an online statement, the Association of American Publishers, which represents the three suing companies, said in part, "The court misunderstood and misapplied the law."

In the meantime, Heyward said colleges and universities have taken note of the parameters set by the judge's ruling.

"It's important to all of the universities in Georgia as well as universities around the country because unfortunately, the copyright laws have not kept up with the technology that we use in today's classrooms" Heyward said.