Copyright Basics: What is Copyright Law?

What is Copyright Protected?

When Works Pass into the Public Domain

Copyright Court Decisions (summary)

Copyright Court Decisions (summary)
Test Your Copyright Knowledge
What You Need To Know

University of Chicago Press v. BISI Inc.
In February 2004, The University of Chicago Press, Princeton University Press, Elsevier Inc., Pearson Education Inc., John Wiley & Sons Inc. and SAGE Publications filed a copyright infringement suit against Austin, Texas-based BISI Inc., the owners and operators of Netpaks, Abel's Copies and Speedway Copying. The plaintiffs alleged that BISI routinely duplicated and distributed copyrighted materials, both in print and online, without obtaining copyright permission and sold them to students for a profit. In March 2004, the parties reached a settlement in which the defendants agreed to pay undisclosed damages to the publishers and adopt compliant business practices going forward.

Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Services, Inc.
Princeton University Press, Macmillan, Inc., and St. Martin's Press, Inc. brought a copyright infringement action against Michigan Document Services, Inc. (MDS). The plaintiffs claimed that MDS infringed on their copyrights when it made multiple copies of excerpts from various materials provided by university professors, compiled them into coursepacks and sold the coursepacks to students for a profit. The district court found that MDS's infringement was willful and issued an injunction against it. MDS appealed the district court's decision, defending its copying practices primarily on the ground that the coursepacks were a fair use of the copyrighted works. In April, 1996, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, upheld the district court, ruling that coursepack use was not a fair use of the publishers' works.

Basic Books, Inc. v. Kinko's Graphics Corporation
In 1991, eight book publishers sued Kinko's Graphics Corporation for copyright infringement, alleging that Kinko's violated their copyrights by photocopying copyright-protected materials to create university coursepacks. Kinko's unauthorized copying covered a wide range of materials including text, trade and professional books. Kinko's argued "fair use" but the court disagreed. All told, Kinko's paid almost $2 million in damages, fees and other costs.