Copyfraud and Classroom Performance Rights: Two Common Bogus Copyright Claims Brandon Butler, Director of Public Policy Initiatives, ARL Introduction: Misrepresenting Copyright N egotiating copyright law can be challenging even when basic facts are not in doubt. It becomes unnecessarily difficult when publishers, distributors, and even some libraries misrepresent basic facts: which works are under copyright, and which rights a library must purchase to support teaching and learning. Unfortunately such misrepresentations are widespread. This article will describe two common misrepresentations about copyright law: “copyfraud” and “public performance rights” for classroom uses. Two important limitations to the copyright monopoly are its limited duration1 and the exception for classroom performance and display of copyrighted materials.2 The limited duration of copyright ensures that once authors have had a reasonable time (and then some) to exploit their creations, works will rise into the public domain and be set free to circulate without copyright restrictions. The classroom performance exception frees teachers to screen films and other works based on pedagogical goals rather than legal technicalities. In addition to reducing the technical and economic barriers to effective teaching, the classroom exception ensures that rights holders cannot use copyright as a tool for censorship, e.g., by withholding permission to use works in courses where the filmmaker’s point of view is criticized. Two varieties of misrepresentation are undermining these important features of the law. First, publishers and other distributors of public domain materials are using copyright notices that suggest falsely that public domain materials are in RLI 276 20 SEPTEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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