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Small Revelations in Copyright

Today Dan Donnelly from the University of Minnesota’s Copyright Information and Education Initiative came to talk to us about copyright in educational settings. It’s funny, but after a year of trying to wrap my mind around the four factors of fair use, I’d forgotten all about the actual language associated with fair use in the law. Here it is:

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. (Title 17 USC, section 107)

This doesn’t get us off the hook for doing the four factor analysis, of course, but it sure does help with the confidence factor.

Dan reminded us that, ironically, this doesn’t apply to course packs, since those are by nature a commercial venture.

But he did emphasize that libraries play a HUGE role in the dissemination of information on a college or university campus. We’ve already licensed huge amounts of material and, unless the licenses prohibit specific uses, this means that we’ve already paid for permission to spread information to our users. So, if you’re making a course pack, DON’T include library licensed material or you’ll be paying twice for the right to use the articles. But if you’re worried about eReserves and copyright, link to as much licensed material as possible (within the license agreement, of course) because that’s already been handsomely paid for. And remember that I said “link” to licensed material. Don’t download and upload. Link.

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