This week, the AAUP legal team took action on two matters related to faculty rights, filing an amicus brief to support the right of faculty at religious institutions to be protected by antidiscrimination law, and, separately, a comment seeking a copyright exemption for researchers who work on motion pictures and literary works.
The AAUP authored and filed yesterday an amicus brief in support of a lower court decision holding that Margaret DeWeese-Boyd, a professor at a Christian college, is not a “minister” and thus was protected by Massachusetts antidiscrimination laws. DeWeese-Boyd had sued her employer, Gordon College, alleging that it violated Massachusetts discrimination law when it denied her a promotion because of her activity on LGBTQ issues. Gordon College argued that, as a religiously affiliated institution, it was exempt from employment discrimination law because it claimed DeWeese-Boyd was a “minister” within the First Amendment “ministerial exception.” The amicus brief used the AAUP’s well-established principles and standards to provide guidance to the Massachusetts Supreme Court in applying the “ministerial exception” in the context of higher education institutions. You can read a summary of the amicus brief and download a PDF of the brief here.
Also yesterday, we contributed to a long-form comment seeking an exemption from a prohibition on circumventing technological protection measures for text and data mining of lawfully accessed motion pictures and lawfully accessed literary works distributed electronically. The comment was submitted yesterday to the US Copyright Office with Authors Alliance and the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (the Berkeley Clinic). The AAUP supports the exemption because faculty and academic researchers are and will continue to be adversely affected in their ability to make fair use of motion pictures and literary works if they are prohibited from accessing certain classes of works. Read more and download the comment here.
Read more about the AAUP legal department’s work here.
Risa Lieberwitz, General Counsel
Aaron Nisenson, Senior Counsel
Nancy Long, Associate Counsel