What should I know about Copyright and Fair Use?

The Internet makes it very easy to acquire and copy all sorts of creative works, and to share them with students for course-related purposes. But you should always carefully consider, before you share (even in a password-protected environment), whether you have the right to copy and share anything — text, images, audio, video, etc. —  that might be protected by U.S. Copyright law.

What is Copyright?
The U.S. Copyright law gives the creators of “original works of authorship” the right to reproduce and distribute, perform, or display their creations publicly; or grant someone else permission to do so. What does that mean to you as an instructor? If you’re planning to incorporate someone else’s work into your course, you need to know the status of the copyright.

What is Fair Use?
Fair Use is not a law governing whether or how you can use copyrighted material. Rather, it is a set of factors by which you can justify your use of copyrighted materials without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. In brief, the factors are:

  1. Purpose and character of the use (teaching, scholarship, research, non-profit, personal use)
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work (factual, published)
  3. Amount and substantiality of portion used (small amount relative to the entire work)
  4. Effect on the potential market for the work (original is out of print or unavailable; there is no ready market for permissions; reasonable attempts to obtain a copy or permission to copy have been documented)

For a complete analysis, go to CUNY Fair Use Analysis, from which the above is excerpted.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask: the CUNY Copyright Committee is one group to contact (copyrightOLS@mail.cuny.edu). You can also contact Simone Yearwood, Access Services Librarian in the Rosenthal Library at Queens College (simone.yearwood@qc.cuny.edu).

Additional resources:
(C)opyright @ CUNY, especially their page For Faculty, which provides examples of dos and don’ts
Copyright basics
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
Copyright Law of the United States of America
The Direction Of Fair Use For Education: New Law And New Possibilities (Educause webinar on recent Fair Use cases)
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video

The Past, Present, and Future of Ownership (On the Media)
A Fair(y) Use Tale, created by Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University

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Authors’ rights workshop

Publishers often ask authors to sign away some rights as a condition of publication. When you publish your works, what rights do you retain? Can you repost it on your website? Who owns your copyright? How can you retain the rights you want? Should you consider publishing in open access journals?

Aiming to strengthen your knowledge about intellectual property,the speakers covered several aspects of academic publishing with a focus on authors’ rights, including:

•    Considering the benefits of retaining copyright
•    Assessing the types of contracts you may be offered
•    Negotiating a better contract
•    Accessing alternatives to traditional academic publishing
•    Recognizing current problems with the academic publishing environment

The workshop focused primarily on journal articles rather than other types of publications.

Michael Miller, Associate Librarian for Public Services, Benjamin Rosenthal Library
Nancy Foasberg, Humanities Librarian, Benjamin Rosenthal Library

If you missed the presentation, a recording is available here.
Download a pdf of the slides here.

Additional resources:

Scientist meets Publisher  – explanatory video
JAMA – Authorship Responsibility, Conflicts of Interest and Funding, and Copyright Transfer/Publishing Agreement (pdf)
Wiley-Blackwell –  copyright transfer agreement (pdf)
BioMed Central – copyright and license agreement (pdf)
SHERPA/ROMEO – searchable list of publisher policies
SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Guidelines and Tools for negotiating contracts
Columbia University Libraries’ Copyright Advisory Office –  guide to negotiating ccopyright agreements
Funding models for OA journal
SPARC guide “How Open Is It?” (pdf)
Directory of Open Access Journals
SPARC – Author Addendum
Open Access Pledge

Click here to learn more about Open Access Week 2012: http://www.openaccessweek.org/
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