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An important victory for the financial health and future of scientific journals was won July 23 when Judge Pierre Leval of the Federal District Court in New York handed down his decision on the copyright infringement suit, American Geophysical Union, et al. v. Texaco Inc. Leval ruled that profit-making companies cannot photocopy copyrighted journal articles without permission and without compensating the copyright holder.

The class action suit was brought in 1985 by AGU and six other scientific publishers on behalf of 8500 publishers worldwide who make their titles available for legal copying under licenses granted by the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. This licensing system was designed in cooperation with major corporations to facilitate compliance with the 1976 Copyright Act. Although more than 200 companies now use the center, some corporations, such as Texaco, have not. The suit was initiated to force compliance with copyright law. The current decision is very important because it establishes legal precedents on the “fair use” issue.