Magazine article Information Today

Just What Is Fair Use?

Magazine article Information Today

Just What Is Fair Use?

Article excerpt

Just What Is Fair Use? Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators Creative Strategies & Practical Solutions, third edition by Kenneth D. Crews Chicago: ALA, 2012 ISBN: 978-0838910924 208 pages; $57, softcover

Copyright law is a constant concern for information professionals. We often deliver various forms of information to our users or help them access it themselves. This may involve copying or interlibrary lending.

In recent years, digital formats have added some new twists to the mix. Copyright time limits have also changed. However, we still are dealing with many of the old familiar concepts, including fair use. Librarians need to be familiar with these concepts and to keep up with copyright changes so that we can follow the law, advise our users, and help our institutions avoid liability. Faculty members may ask academic librarians for their help with copyright issues because, as librarians, we are viewed as being knowledgeable and concerned about copyright. It's important that we are able to provide answers or at least provide resources with possible answers. This new edition of a respected work offers up-to-date information, with a special focus on the needs of educators.

Author Kenneth D. Crews is the director of the Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University. Previously, he was director of the nation's first university-based copyright office on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus at Indiana University. He holds degrees in law and library science and was a practicing attorney before he became a librarian. He was the first recipient of the L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award from the American Library Association in 2005. He is also an expert in copyright issues, especially as they affect libraries and higher education.

Updates on Copyright Issues

In the acknowledgments for the third edition of Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators: Creative Strategies & Practical Solutions, Crews notes that this is a full update of the second edition, published in 2006, and it does indeed integrate much information about the latest copyright laws and decisions. This book is designed to serve as a resource for librarians and teachers at all levels: The use of various forms of media is becoming ubiquitous in online course materials, and using electronic resources is often governed by license agreements. However, copyright law may still impact these online course materials and electronic resources.

Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators is divided into several sections. The first introduces us to the basics of copyright, including what can be copyrighted and what cannot. A work must be both "original" and "fixed in any tangible medium of expression" in order to be copyrighted. U.S. government works cannot be copyrighted, although state or local government works can be. Items without copyright protection are said to be in the public domain.

The second section describes the rights of copyright owners, including duration, what specific rights owners have, and exceptions to these rights. Most new works have copyright protection for the life of the author plus 70 years, although older works may have different durations of rights. For works before 1978, further research may be needed to determine actual duration. …

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