Not only did publishers not get the injunctive relief they sought in a closely watched case over e-reserves, last week they paid the tab. In a final order in the Georgia State E-reserves case, Cambridge University Press vs. Patton, Judge Orinda Evans directed the publisher plaintiffs to pay the defendants nearly $3 million in legal fees and costs, including $2,861,348.71 in attorneys’ fees and $85,746.39 in other court costs. And, last week, on October 26, records show that the publishers deposited more than $3.2 million into the Commercial Registry of the Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The money, however, isn’t gone yet—publishers have appealed the case, and the money will stay in escrow under a stay order until the appeal is settled.
The payment comes after an August 10 order in the Georgia State University e-reserve case, in which Evans flatly rejected the publishers’ sweeping proposal for injunctive relief, and ordered the publishers to pay attorneys’ costs. The order represented the culmination of a contentious four-year legal battle, in which three academic publishers, (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage Publications, supported by the AAP and with costs partially underwritten by the Copyright Clearance Center) alleged that GSU administrators systematically encouraged faculty to commit copyright infringement via GSU’s e-reserve systems as a no-cost alternative to traditional coursepacks. Ultimately, in Evans’ May 11 verdict, the judge found GSU administrators liable on just five of 99 counts.
The case, however, is not yet settled. On September 10, the Association of American Publishers confirmed that the publisher plaintiffs lodged an appeal with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In a statement, AAP officials said the District Court’s rulings were “inconsistent with prior judicial decisions,” and, if left “uncorrected,” the AAP argues, the courts’ decision would “encourage educational institutions across the country to engage in massive infringement of copyright at a great cost to the entire academic community.”