23:1 (2008:03) Other Serials News: Copyright Workshop

February 20, 2008 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Other Serials and E-Resources News | Leave a comment
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COPYRIGHT: MYTHS, PRINCIPLES AND THE LAW WORKSHOP
Presenter: Dr. Kenneth Crews, Director of the Copyright Management Center, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis
Reported by Bridget Miller

[Presented at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 18, 2007.]

The librarians that packed the theater at the Carnegie Museum of Art for this workshop attended an interesting and informative day-long presentation on copyright. Many were able to attend this workshop because it was sponsored by ten regional organizations, keeping registration costs low.

Crews gave a practical explanation of copyright and its related issues in an engaging way, helping those in attendance to begin to think differently about copyright. There are no hard-and-fast rules or percentages to follow. There are no simple clear-cut answers. Showing librarians how to look at copyright the way that a court would was very informative.

Crews talked about fair use as an exception in copyright law. For any use that librarians are concerned about, the question is, “Does this use fit within the fair use exception?” Fair use depends on a consideration of the overall set of facts and circumstances. It is not an “If A, then B” situation. He warned librarians to beware of simplified rules related to copyright, because the law of copyright does not really dispense answers. All we can do is divine “answers” from similar situations. One of the key points he made about copyright law is that the law merely sets a baseline.

When looking at the few copyright cases that have been brought to court and could be applicable to library-related copyright issues, Crews wanted us to keep four words in mind: purpose, nature, amount, and effect. The court weighs the balance of all four factors in rendering a decision on copyright. What was the purpose of the use? Educational or commercial? What was the nature of the work used? Was it published or unpublished? Was it fiction or non-fiction? What amount of the work was used? What was the effect of the use? Did it displace sales or did it actually help the market?

He then spoke to those of us working in non-profit educational institutions, libraries, and archives. He said that if you believed that what you were doing was fair use and if you could show reasonable evidence for that belief, you could feel fairly comfortable about your legal standing. He said that this is why written policies and the efforts that libraries put into trying to abide by fair use are so important. These are the very things that you can point to should any particular use come into question.

Discussion of copyright naturally leads into the issue of licensing. In the afternoon session Dr. Crews addressed licensing specifically. Licensing is important because through a license agreement you can negotiate more extensive rights than those that are available through copyright law. However, he warned, you can also negotiate away the rights you are given under copyright law, so be sure to negotiate wisely.

Crews has released a second edition of his text, Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators: Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions (ALA Editions, 2005).

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