nondiscriminatory Internet services is essential for research libraries and
academic institutions to achieve their missions in the
21st
century.
Fair Use
The research library community has long advocated for balanced copyright
and intellectual property policies, as these advance the mission of the research
enterprise. The library and academic community look to copyright law as the
policy framework for balancing competing interests of creators, owners, and
users of copyrighted works. In recent years, through technological develop-
ments, court decisions, and legislation, this balance has shifted, favoring the
commercial sector over non-profit and educational interests. This shift is due
to several factors. First, driven by the fear of loss of control, and the loss of
potential revenue due to the ease of copying digital copyrighted resources,
owners of copyrighted works in the US pressed Congress and the Executive
Branch for more restrictive copyright laws and practices. Second, the ability
to technologically control uses of information allowed owners of copyrighted
works greater freedom in limiting authorized use; thus, technology not
copyright law determined use. Finally, the very nature of the Internet as a
“disruptive technology” convinced Congress that greater protections for
owners of copyrighted works were warranted. This shift has led to a variety of
approaches in local practice, oftentimes practices that may not fully reflect the
interests of the academy or what is actually permitted under law. These changes
in law and practice also present challenges to research and academic libraries on
a daily basis, as libraries provide access to copyrighted works to members of the
academic and research community.
As described by Brandon Butler in this issue of RLI, research and academic
librarians play a leadership role in copyright policy and practice at their
institutions. These librarians rely on several provisions in the US Copyright
Act, including fair use and related exemptions for libraries and educational
institutions, to achieve their mission of preserving and providing effective public
access to information in all formats. For libraries, the doctrine of fair use is an
important limitation on the rights of copyright owners. This doctrine protects
libraries and their patrons from liability when they reproduce copyrighted
works for purposes such as scholarship, research, teaching, news reporting, and
criticism. Fair use also serves an important “gap-filler” function. For example, as
new technologies give rise to new rights and protections for copyrighted works,
RLI 273
3
Three Key Public Policies for Research Libraries
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
DECEMBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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