Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Managing Copyright Services at a University

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Managing Copyright Services at a University

Article excerpt

Within the academic library community, copyright is an area of critical importance and growing interest. As the landscape of information creation and delivery continues to change, interpretation of existing copyright guidelines, including Fair Use, has become less clear, and new laws have been passed. Scholarly communication issues, involving digital collections, institutional repositories, and consortial agreements are among the many evolving areas--along with authors' rights--that require copyright awareness and support. As a result, many campuses are establishing copyright offices, often within their libraries. Such services are invaluable to their constituents. In the following article, Donna Ferullo shares some of her experience in managing a university copyright office. She also offers insight to other institutions that may be considering providing such a service.--Editor

In 2000 I was appointed the first director of the newly created University Copyright Office at Purdue University I was presented with a blank canvas, which was exhilarating but at the same time daunting. Where to start? I decided to first look at how and why the office came into being and then survey the copyright environment within the university. This was an invaluable exercise since it provided me with the necessary information to decide what services were needed and how to implement them. The following is the information I discovered during that exercise and throughout the years since, as well as my observations as to the questions that need to be asked. Over the past eleven years, the core purpose of the office has not changed, but certainly the approach and structure has, given the fluidity of copyright law and its application.

Copyright is big business, and many universities are discovering that their infrastructure does not support an effective and efficient way of not only responding to copyright problems but also managing copyright as well. When did copyright become big business in education? Why is it so important, and how did it become part of the everyday vocabulary at universities? How can universities address copyright issues?

In the past, copyright at universities was perceived as being primarily associated only with faculty in terms of the copyright in their own works and using other people's copyrighted works in the classroom. Traditionally, universities have differed from other businesses by allowing some of their employees, such as faculty, to retain copyright to the works they create while employed at the university whereas ownership of the copyright in works created by staff follows the traditional business model of the university owning the copyright.

The copyright environment really began to change as technology became more advanced. Computers made it easy to copy and distribute copyrighted works, which caused content holders to become quite controlling of their works. As they became increasingly protective and restrictive in the use of their works, universities became more concerned and aware of the impact such restrictions would have on education. The exceptions in the U.S. Copyright law, particularly fair use and the education and library exceptions, became even more critical to achieving the mission of education. However, many universities did not understand the exceptions and how to apply them or they were being interpreted incorrectly and being applied inconsistently across campus.

At the same time that technology was making rapid advancements and significant changes, Congress was being heavily influenced by major content holders such as the movie, music and publishing industries to narrow the scope of the use of copyrighted works. This created the perfect copyright storm. The copyright landscape shifted dramatically starting in the 1990s with the drafting and eventual passage of three key pieces of copyright legislation: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA); the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 (CTEA); and the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002 (TEACH). …

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