Copyright across the Cohort: A Qualitative Evaluation of the Dissemination of Intellectual Property Information on ARL Websites

Article excerpt


In December 2009 the Libraries Copyright Task Force (LCTF) of Colorado State University Libraries (CSUL) presented its findings to the CSUL interim dean and assistant deans. As part of its charge the LCTF was asked to "identify ... current practice in responding to questions and issues regarding copyright in the Libraries" as well as "determine what the Libraries purview is in regard to copyright vs. other units in the University community ... and any external role [the] Libraries can/should play". The LCTF was also asked, as its charge, to "define content for a Libraries web site and possibly produce the content" (Negrucci, et al., 2009, [pp. 1-5]). This task force was the most recent of three internal committees that had examined copyright issues germane to the library and university community over the course of the past five years, as the transition from print to digital materials, the expansion of document delivery services, and the increase of local digitization initiatives prompted CSUL staff to address intellectual property issues with ever-increasing scrutiny.

Among its findings, the LCTF noted that there were many players in the university's copyright universe, each with different administrative and policy functions. At the time of the LCTF report, these players included campus units and departments as diverse as: The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT), Communications and Creative Services (CCS), Academic Computing and Networking Services (ACNS), the campus University Bookstore (CUB) the Colorado State University Research Foundation (CSURF), and the Office of General Counsel (OGC). While overlapping concerns necessitated some contact between these units regarding copyright issues, oftentimes, the units "functioned independently from the others, without much knowledge of copyright issues in other areas of campus" (Negrucci, et al., 2009, [pp. 4-5]). To somewhat remedy this situation, as well as to facilitate communication during the year of its charge, the chair of the LCTF arranged for meetings to be held between LCTF members and the members of several of these aforementioned units.

The information exchanged between campus units during these meetings proved informative when the LCTF began to work towards its goal of creating a comprehensive web-based subject guide on copyright ("LibGuide") that could be accessed by the campus community. Noting that much of the campus community's information on copyright was on the web, but that there was no central clearinghouse for copyright information, the LCTF sought to gather information on copyright from other units and provide links to other campus web pages. Through the creation of the copyright subject guide, the LCTF was able to better reflect the copyright services of all campus units in one main place as well as begin to redefine its role in providing copyright information to campus constituencies beyond the walls of the library.

In addition to gathering input from other campus units while designing the CSUL copyright subject guide, the LCTF also looked beyond Colorado State University to review the online copyright information provided by other academic libraries. This was based on the presumption that, in ways similar to CSUL, the web--through library portals--is often used by other academic libraries as the primary mechanism to disseminate information regarding US copyright law, local/institutional copyright policies, and educational services on intellectual property issues. Several online web guides from other academic libraries served helpful as the LCTF considered the design and content of the copyright LibGuide. In addition, once the CSUL copyright subject guide was completed, the task force members reviewed web-based copyright information provided by other academic libraries as a means to guide revisions to pre-existing copyright information found within various CSUL departmental and unit web pages (e. …