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Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Services, Inc., 99 F.3d 1381 (1997) p.675


fair use


A commecial copy shop made compilations of materials for students without paying licensing fees. The court called them "coursepacks" - made up of excerpts of books and other printed materials with the direction of the professors. The owner of the copy shop decided not to get the licenses and advertised this fact. He did not think it necessary.


District Court found that the use was not a fair use and entered summary judgment in which the copyright owners were granted equitable relief based on a finding of willfulness. A three judge panel of this court reversed the judgment on appeal, but a majority of the active judges voted to rehear the case. The appeal has now been argued before the full court.


Whether the fair use doctrine obviated the need to obtain permission from the copyright owners.


Licensing fees must be paid by copyshops that put together "coursepacks" for students.


We agree with the district court that the defendant's commercial exploitation of the copyrighted materials did not constitute fair use and we shall affirm that branch of the district court's judgment. We beleive that the district court erred in its finding or willfulness and we vacate the damages award.


Four elements of fair use:

  1. purpose and character - made by a commercial shop; no question it was a commercial use
  2. nature - is not in dispute here; this factor cuts against a finding of fair use
  3. amount/substantiality - the larger the volume of what is taken, the greater the affront to the interests of the copyright owner, and the less likely that a taking will qualify as a fair use; the defendant has failed to carry their burden with respect to amount/substantiality;
  4. The most important factor is the fourth factor. There is a presumption of unfairness here, and the defendants have not rebutted it. The publishers have carried the burden of proving a diminution in potential market value
TEST: to negate fair use one need only show that if the challenged use should become widespread, it would adversely affct the potential market for the copyrighted work.

Created on: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 at 19:36:24 (PDT)

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