Challenges in Employing Fair Use in Academic and Research Libraries Brandon Butler, Director of Public Policy Initiatives, ARL A cademic and research librarians are at the heart of copyright policy and practice at their institutions. The balancing features of copyright law—aspects of the law that allow use of copyrighted works without requiring payment or permission—are vitally important to these librarians as they strive to serve a variety of library users. The most flexible (and potentially the most powerful) of these balancing features is the doctrine of fair use, which judges apply to permit uses that benefit society more than they harm rightsholders. Some communities have united behind codes of best practice that help them take advantage of fair use by articulating how that flexible doctrine applies to their core practices. The flexibility of fair use can deter communities from using it, however, when users are unsure how to apply the doctrine to their practice. With funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ARL—in collaboration with American University’s Center for Social Media and the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University’s Washington College of Law—is conducting a three-stage project to help academic and research libraries better employ fair use. The recently completed first stage consisted of confidential interviews with 65 librarians to determine how they were interpreting and using fair use in five key areas of practice: support for teaching and learning, support for faculty and student scholarship, preservation, exhibition and public outreach, and serving disabled communities. In the second stage, the project team will convene a series of round-table discussions with academic and research librarians that will serve as the basis for a code of best practices in fair use for academic and research libraries. Finally, the third stage will involve outreach to academic and research librarians, as well as related groups who influence library policy, such as administrators and university counsel, to promote the widest possible understanding and adoption of the code. This article summarizes the findings from the first stage of the project. RLI 273 17 DECEMBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
Previous Page Next Page