Sometimes cases out of the mainstream can distort basic issues, as Judge Leval believes Sony did in the fair use area. But other times, the off-beat can be helpful; that, I think is the situation with an April 18th opinion from the Southern District of Georgia, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. v. Camp Systems International, Inc. Plaintiff is the manufacturer of the jet aircrafts beloved by those with real money, and envied by those who aspire to that status, or who simply bewail their fate stuck in coach on a flight from New York to Australia. As part of its FAA obligations, Gulfstream must write and distribute maintenance manuals for each of its aircraft models. Each owner of an aircraft must possess a copy, which Gulfstream licenses for $8,500 a year. Gulfstream also has an online tracking service so that customers are aware what needs to be serviced and when.
Defendant does not manufacture aircraft, but instead provides maintenance tracking services for them. Gulfstream refused to license a copy of its manual to Defendant. To get around this problem (and an FAA ban on defendant producing its own manual), Camp asked Gulfstream owners to borrow their copy of the manual, from which defendant then loaded parts onto its servers. Gulfstream could not lose any sales of the manual from defendant's activity because each aircraft owner was required to own a copy, which they could only get from Gulfstream. Defendant asserted fair use.
The court found the use was commercial and not transformative. The nature of the work was factual. The amount copied was in one respect the entirety, but in another - what was actually used - less than the whole since defendant only "extracted" (the court's quote marks) those parts it needed to perform the specific maintenance tasks. There was no market harm to the manuals, but Gulfstream claimed harm from loss of fees for a competing tracking service, and also implausibly claimed that defendant had created a derivative work. The court rejected both arguments and noted the FAA, despite prohibiting defendant from producing a manual, came out against Gulfstream's effort to restrict defendant's use.
The use in Gulfstream bears little resemblance to a traditional fair use case, and while the opinion contains a traditional analysis, in the end, the court viewed the effort as one of attempted monopolization of services through an assertion of copyright. In other words, Buddy your copyright doesn't reach that far.