Libraries should understand, however, that copyright law is not the basis for
the limitations in these contracts; when libraries sign these licenses, they are
agreeing to limit their rights despite the law’s preference for educational use.
Four Things Libraries Can Do to Stop
(or Alleviate) Misleading Copyright Claims
The law provides very little in the way of disincentive for copyfraud and
misrepresentation of copyright law,22 but there are things libraries can do to
minimize the negative impact of these bogus claims:
Know your rights. The evidence shows that many rights holders simply
are not providing accurate information when they make claims about the
scope of copyright and the availability of important exceptions for users.
When a book or a digital scan is inscribed with boilerplate copyright
language, that can be the beginning of an inquiry about its copyright
status, but it may be worthwhile to dig deeper to determine whether
these representations are accurate. When a vendor tries to sell you
“rights,” remember that they have their own reasons to try to extract as
much money as possible from users; “caveat emptor” should be your
watchword here, as in any market transaction.
Read before you sign. Vendors and other content aggregators cannot change
the law by misrepresenting it on their websites, but they can tie your
hands with a license that takes away rights that the law has given you.
Before you agree to limit the uses your institution will make with a “home
use” version of a film, remember that by default the law says a teacher
can show any lawfully made work in class without paying a special fee.
Don’t buy more “rights” than you need. If there is no license agreement, or
if the license agreement for a “home use” version of a film does not
specifically limit your right to use the work for teaching, consider taking
advantage of your legal rights and buying these cheaper versions rather
than paying for “rights” or “editions” you do not need. The Bullfrog
Home Use license, for instance, appears to be perfectly adequate for
teaching uses, despite what the company’s website claims. While
performance rights may be useful for film festivals or student clubs,
they are not necessary for the core teaching and learning uses that most
research libraries support.
Copyfraud and Classroom Performance Rights: Two Common Bogus Copyright Claims
C O N T I N U E D
SEPTEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC