This is the first of many posts about Open Access issues over the next week. Watch for the banner to see more of them.
Decisions about use of copyrighted materials are made every day on campus - in lectures, conference presentations, and when writing scholarly articles or reports. We don’t give a second thought to some uses. Others, we struggle with: can I stream a video in an online class? can I use an image from the internet in my PowerPoint? can I copy multiple articles to distribute to my class? According to a recent article by Patricia Aufderheide in Inside Higher Ed, “Academics potentially enjoy some of the greatest benefits of U.S. copyright law’s doctrine of fair use — which lets them use copyrighted material without permission or payment, under some circumstances. Now if only they knew they did.”
Aufderheide goes on to say that most uses go unnoticed and uncontested. “But when the uses are questioned — usually by a publisher, or a librarian, or an IT person, and often because of new media and digital platforms — academics often lack the confidence to defend their choices, because they don’t know the law.”
Fair use has become confusing and controversial, when actually it is clear about allowing users - on a case-by-case basis - to use, repurpose, or transform copyrighted materials in an appropriate amount. Academics have fair-use rights to teach and research using copyrighted materials. But as Aufderheide states, “If it's so easy, why are so many smart people so scared of fair use?”
To help ease the confusion and controversy, Fair Use Best Practices for Academic Libraries are being developed and will be introduced this winter. Brandon Butler, Director of Public Policy Initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and Aufderheide have both been involved in the 3-year process undertaken by ARL, the Center for Social Media at American University, and the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property in American University’s Washington College of Law.
Butler and Aufderheide will conduct a webinar this Thursday, Oct. 20 at 2:00 p.m. in Hale Library’s Hemisphere Room titled Fair Use: How to Leave the Culture of Fear and Doubt. If the concept of fair use intrigues you or has an impact on your work, or if you want to learn more about your rights, please attend. For more information about the webinar, contact Jenny Oleen.
Patricia Aufderheide is a professor of communication and director of the Center for Social Media at American University and co-author, with Peter Jaszi, of Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (University of Chicago Press, 2011).
Brandon Butler is Director of Public Policy Initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries. Prior to ARL, he was an associate in the Media and Information Technologies practice group at the Washington, D.C., law firm Dow Lohnes PLLC, where he worked on copyright issues, trademark prosecution, and corporate transactions involving intellectual property.