Nat'l Council on Teacher Quality v. Minn. State Colleges & Univs.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright, Infringment
  • Date Filed: 08-05-2013
  • Case #: A12-2031
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court of Appeals of Minnesota.
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 Minn. App. LEXIS 77
  • Westlaw Citation: 2013 WL 3968735
  • Full Text Opinion

Anticipated future infringement is not sufficient to bar the fair use of copyrighted materials.

Opinion (Ross): The National Council on Teacher Quality ("NCTQ"), a nonprofit research and advocacy education-reform organization, requested copies of faculty-authored syllabi from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities ("MnSCU") under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. MnSCU is a statutorily created organization of the state's colleges and universities and is governed by a board of trustees (that is itself a state agency) that maintains educational syllabi. MnSCU refused to honor the NCTQ's data request because it believed that providing the syllabi might allow the NCTQ to infringe on the intellectual-property rights of the faculty members who authored them. The Federal Copyright Act preempted the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The trial court concluded that although the syllabi were the intellectual property of MnSCU faculty-authors, the NCTQ's proposed use was fair use. MnSCU appealed, citing the Minnesota Act. MnSCU did not explain how it might become liable to the faculty-authors under the Copyright Act even if the NCTQ does infringe their copyrights, nor did it challenge the lower court's ruling that NCTQ's use will be fair use. The Court AFFIRMED the trial court's ruling.

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