Implementing a comprehensive copyright policy
The manner and means of access to and use of copyrighted works is undergoing dramatic change. We must assume that the way universities use copyright materials today will change too. It may be difficult to agree upon the rate of change, and now that the infrastructure is in place the rate will likely change. Nevertheless, to comply with copyright law, we must identify as closely as we can what our future needs will be so our policies meet those needs and not just the needs we have today. It should be clear as well that a policy developed 10 or 20 years ago will not serve us well in the 21st century.
We should expect major shifts along the following axes within the next decade:
It may not be possible to know when or even whether we will move all the way from one end of an axis to the other. It is, nevertheless, easy to see that a policy that only suits universities' needs at the near end of these axes will be less relevant and less valuable at the other end.
Understanding the long-term impact of any policy decision is also complicated by the following facts:
Nevertheless, it is time to get started.
Education: distinguishing what's fair use from what needs permission
There is considerable online help for determining fair use. Just Google "fair use." The charge to administrators, however, is more difficult than that. You must figure out how to get people who need it to look for it, and make it easy to get permission when fair use is not enough for a proposed use. A thoughtful, realistic and widely disseminated copyright policy is the most important first step in this undertaking. Putting information online is a good first step, but it is not enough. The Crash Course has been online for more than 15 years and there is still a need for copyright education on campus.
The easiest thing to understand is that fair use does not cover all our activities. These are examples of the kinds of activities that probably require permissions of some sort on most campuses:
In today's environment, institutions are responsible for the copying our employees do; thus, this copying is "institutional copying." Most people would agree that fair use is insufficient to cover all the copying that a university user might need to perform to fully utilize print library materials. Our potential liability should give us all the incentive we need to address these issues directly.
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