The New Set of Electronic Rules

Article excerpt

The New Set of Electronic Rules Legal Solutions in Electronic Reserves and the Electronic Delivery of Interlibrary Loan by Janet Brennan Croft New York: Haworth Information Press, 2004 Published simultaneously as Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery and Information Supply, Volume 14, Number 3 ISBN: 0-7890-2559-0 46 pages $19.95 paperback, $29.95 hardback

Electronic information has caused plenty of confusion for libraries. Copyright laws are different for electronic materials, and so are the ways that users can access and manipulate these materials.

Repercussions for violating copyright laws can be serious too. It's tempting to try to fit electronic materials into our same old policies, but this just won't work because the laws are different. What to do? If you work in a nonprofit setting, Janet Brennan Croft's new primer can help you sort out these issues.

Croft, who is head of access services at the University of Oklahoma Libraries, has written about library issues for a number of journals. She has devoted much effort to understanding the issues involved in electronic information delivery: "Staying within the law, while facilitating fair use of information for our patrons, is becoming a more complicated process every year," she said. "Technology and the law play leapfrog as innovations create a need for new regulations, and new regulations breed innovations designed to bypass them."

Most librarians aren't experts in copyright law, which can be very confusing. In Legal Solutions in Electronic Reserves and the Electronic Delivery oflnterlibrary Loan, Croft gives us a quick overview of four important related topics, starting off with copyright basics.

Relevant laws can be found online at http://www.copyright.gov/laws. She presents excellent summaries of U.S. copyright (including which laws are relevant to educators and librarians), the principles of fair use, the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU), and National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU) guidelines. These guidelines are the source of rules such as how many copies of a journal article can be requested in a given year.

The section on penalties certainly grabs the reader's attention. Willful copyright infringement is punishable by paying fines or spending time in prison. Readers are advised to be sure that any information materials they copy and distribute are within the bounds of fair use.

The second (and rather short) chapter surveys confidentiality basics-the USA PATRIOT Act and the effects it may have on library policies.

Chapter 3 discusses electronic reserves. This relatively new area of library services has many legal implications. Croft discusses the similarities and differences of paper and electronic reserves; she notes that libraries usually follow CONFU, even though publishers and libraries have never really agreed on the guidelines. …