Clarity for our users

One of my favorite articles in the library literature is Melanie Schlosser’s “Unless Otherwise Indicated: A Survey of Copyright Statements on Digital Library Collections” in the July 2009 College & Research Libraries. Schlosser looked at the copyright statements for digital collections of members of the Digital Library Federation and did an analysis of their content. She identified several trends in these such as “The Vague Ownership Statement” and “Protecting Ourselves and You”, and, in general, found that these statements provided mixed messages about terms of use and copyright, and incomplete information about the actual copyright status of the items themselves. The examples she provides throughout the text give one a great sense of those mixed messages, incomplete information, and general CYA language that many libraries have used. Read more


Good News in two important fair use cases

There have been developments, of the sort that don’t make headlines, in two major copyright cases that folks in higher education need to know about.

First, today the Supreme Court announced that it would not review the opinion issued by the Second Circuit in the Authors Guild v. Google, the case about the Google Books project that offered a strong reaffirmation of fair use.  So the Authors Guild finally and definitively loses another in its string of anti-fair use cases.  This was what I and many others expected, but it is nice to be able to say that this case is done.  And the broad, flexible approach to fair use that is outlined in the Second Circuit’s decision stands, which is great news. Read more


Fair Use is the Lifeblood of Academia

If the library is the heart of a university, then exercising fair use is the lifeblood.  Teachers, researchers, students, librarians and publishers exercise fair use in countless ways every day.  It is fair use that facilitates re-using and re-mixing, if you will, the knowledge preserved and made available by libraries into new discoveries and interpretations.  This process of research and scholarship has been referred to as ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ because we all rely on that which has gone before to provide insight, context and meaning for today. Read more