Vanderbilt Law Review

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Recent Cases

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Plaintiff, a major commercial publisher of medical journals,'brought a copyright infringement action for damages against the. United States--specifically, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), agencies of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare--in the United States Court of Claims.Plaintiff alleged that defendant had infringed its copyrights by making unauthorized photocopies of plaintiffs medical journal articles and distributing them free of charge to library users on a no-return basis. Defendant conceded that it had made photocopies of each of the articles in question and that plaintiff was the record owner of the copyright registrations on the journals, but relied on the doctrine of fair use to deny liability. The Court of Claims held, judgment for plaintiff. Unauthorized photocopying and cost-free distribution of an entire article from a copyrighted journal by a public, nonprofit government library amounts to actionable infringement of that journal's copyright.