Williams & Wilkins Co. v. United States

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Williams & Wilkins Co. v. United States
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued December 17, 1974
Decided February 25, 1975
Full case name Williams & Wilkins Co. v. United States
Citations 420 U.S. 376 (more)
Holding
Court of Claims held that it was a fair use for libraries to photocopy articles for use by patrons engaged in scientific research. The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Supreme Court.
Court membership
Case opinions
Per curiam.
Blackmun took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Williams & Wilkins Co. v. United States, 487 F.2d 1345 (Ct. Cl. 1973), was an important intellectual property decision by the federal Court of Claims, later affirmed by a per curiam opinion from an evenly divided United States Supreme Court, with only eight justices voting (Harry Blackmun took no part in the decision of this case). The decision held that it was a fair use for libraries to photocopy articles for use by patrons engaged in scientific research.

This decision, written by Judge Oscar Davis, has been cited as part of the trend in which the courts will take a cautious approach to intellectual property issues raised by the advent of new technology. Rather than enforce the rights of the author articles by placing a prohibition on such copying, the Court in this case held that this was not prohibited by the law as written, leaving it to the United States Congress to address the issue through legislation.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Gordon, Wendy J. (1982). "Fair Use as Market Failure: A Structural and Economic Analysis of the 'Betamax' Case and Its Predecessors". Columbia Law Review. Columbia Law Review Association, Inc. 82 (8): 1600–1657. doi:10.2307/1122296. JSTOR 1122296. 

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