I’m right! Librarians have to think

2144933705_20517bedab_zI will pat myself on the back (somebody has to). I wrote in the 2004 edition of Copyright Copyright, “Fair use cannot be reduced to a checklist. Fair use requires that people think.” This point has been affirmed (pdf) by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the long standing Georgia State University (GSU) e-reserves copyright case. The appeals court rejected the lower court’s use of quantitative fair use guidelines in making its fair use ruling, stating that fair use should be determined on a case-by-case basis and that the four factors of fair use should be evaluated and weighed.

Lesson: Guidelines are arbitrary and silly. Determine fair use by considering the evidence before you. (see an earlier District Dispatch article).

The lower court decision was called a win for higher education and libraries because only five assertions of infringement (out of 99) were actually infringing. Hooray for us! But most stakeholders on both sides of the issue, felt that the use of guidelines in weighing the third factor—amount of the work—was puzzling to say the least (but no matter, we won!)

Now that the case has been sent back to the lower court, some assert that GSU has lost the case. But not so fast. This decision validates what the U.S. Supreme Court has long held that fair use is not to be simplified with “bright line rules, for the statute, like the doctrine it recognizes, calls for case-by-case analysis. . . . Nor may the four statutory factors be treated in isolation, one from another. All are to be explored, and the results weighed together, in light of the purposes of copyright.” (510 U.S. 569, 577–78).

Thus, GSU could prevail. Or it might not. But at least fair use will be applied in the appropriate fashion.

Thinking—it’s a good thing.

Posted in Copyright, Higher Education, OITP Tagged with: ,

ALA and ACRL encouraged by “fair use” decision in Georgia State case

Georgia State University Library

Georgia State University Library. Photo by Jason Puckett via flickr.

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit handed down an important decision in Cambridge University Press et al. v. Carl V. Patton et al. concerning the permissible “fair use” of copyrighted works in electronic reserves for academic courses. Although publishers sought to bar the uncompensated excerpting of copyrighted material for “e-reserves,” the court rejected all such arguments and provided new guidance in the Eleventh Circuit for how “fair use” determinations by educators and librarians should best be made. Remanding to the lower court for further proceedings, the court ruled that fair use decisions should be based on a flexible, case-by-case analysis of the four factors of fair use rather than rigid “checklists” or “percentage-based” formulae.

Courtney Young, president of the American Library Association (ALA), responded to the ruling by issuing a statement.

The appellate court’s decision emphasizes what ALA, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) and other library associations have always supported—thoughtful analysis of fair use and a rejection of highly restrictive fair use guidelines promoted by many publishers. Critically, this decision confirms the importance of flexible limitations on publisher’s rights, such as fair use. Additionally, the appeals court’s decision offers important guidance for reevaluating the lower courts’ ruling. The court agreed that the non-profit educational nature of the e-reserves service is inherently fair, and that that teachers’ and students’ needs should be the real measure of any limits on fair use, not any rigid mathematical model. Importantly, the court also acknowledged that educators’ use of copyrighted material would be unlikely to harm publishers financially when schools aren’t offered the chance to license excerpts of copyrighted work.

Moving forward, educational institutions can continue to operate their e-reserve services because the appeals court rejected the publishers’ efforts to undermine those e-reserve services. Nonetheless, institutions inside and outside the appeals court’s jurisdiction—which includes Georgia, Florida and Alabama—may wish to evaluate and ultimately fine tune their services to align with the appeals court’s guidance. In addition, institutions that employ checklists should ensure that the checklists are not applied mechanically.

In 2008, publishers Cambridge, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Publishers sued Georgia State University for copyright infringement. The publishers argued that the university’s use of copyright-protected materials in course e-reserves without a license was a violation of the copyright law. Previously, in May 2012, Judge Orinda Evans of the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the university in a lengthy 350-page decision that reviewed the 99 alleged infringements, finding all but five infringements to be fair uses.

Posted in Copyright, Higher Education, OITP Tagged with: , ,

ALA, Depts. of Ed. and Labor to Host Webinar on Workforce Funding

Event ImageOn October 27, 2014, the American Library Association (ALA) will host “$2.2 Billion Reasons to Pay Attention to WIOA,” an interactive webinar that will explore ways that public and community college libraries can receive funding for employment skills training and job search assistance from the recently-passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The no-cost webinar, which includes speakers from the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, takes place Oct 27, 2014, from 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act allows public and community college libraries to be considered additional One-Stop partners and authorizes adult education and literacy activities provided by public and community college libraries as an allowable statewide employment and training activity. Additionally, the law defines digital literacy skills as a workforce preparation activity.

Speakers include:

  • Moderator: Sari Feldman, president-elect, American Library Association and executive director, Cuyahoga County Public Library
  • Susan Hildreth, director, Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • Heidi Silver-Pacuilla, team leader, Applied Innovation and Improvement, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Kimberly Vitelli, chief of Division of National Programs, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor

Register now as space is limited. The webinar will be archived and emailed to subscribers of the District Dispatch, ALA’s policy blog.

Posted in Funding, Government Information, OGR, Webinars Tagged with: , , ,

Free webinar: Giving legal advice to patrons

Reference librarian assisting readers. Photo by the Library of Congress.

Reference librarian assisting readers. Photo by the Library of Congress.

Every day, public library staff are asked to answer legal questions. Since these questions are often complicated and confusing, and because there are frequent warnings about not offering legal advice, reference staff may be uncomfortable addressing legal reference questions. To help reference staff build confidence in responding to legal inquiries, the American Library Association (ALA) and iPAC will host the free webinar “Lib2Gov.org: Connecting Patrons with Legal Information” on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, from 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT.

The session will offer information on laws, legal resources and legal reference practices. Participants will learn how to handle a law reference interview, including where to draw the line between information and advice, key legal vocabulary and citation formats. During the webinar, leaders will offer tips on how to assess and choose legal resources for patrons. Register now as space is limited.

Catherine McGuire, head of Reference and Outreach at the Maryland State Law Library, will lead the free webinar. McGuire currently plans and presents educational programs to Judiciary staff, local attorneys, public library staff and members of the public on subjects related to legal research and reference. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Conference of Maryland Court Law Library Directors and the co-chair of the Education Committee of the Legal Information Services to the Public Special Interest Section (LISP-SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL).

Webinar: Lib2Gov.org: Connecting Patrons with Legal Information
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Time: 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT

The archived webinar will be emailed to District Dispatch subscribers.

Posted in OGR, Public Libraries, Webinars Tagged with: ,

Webinar archive: Fighting Ebola with information

Photo by Phil Moyer

Photo by Phil Moyer

Archived video from the American Library Association (ALA) webinar “Fighting Ebola and Infectious Diseases with Information: Resources and Search Skills Can Arm Librarians,” is now available. The free webinar teaches participants how to find and share reliable health information on the infectious disease. Librarians from the U.S. National Library of Medicine hosted the interactive webinar. Watch the webinar or download copies of the slides (pdf).

Speakers include:

Siobhan Champ-Blackwell
Siobhan Champ-Blackwell is a librarian with the U.S. National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management Research Center. She selects material to be added to the NLM disaster medicine grey literature data base and is responsible for the Center’s social media efforts. She has over 10 years of experience in providing training on NLM products and resources.

Elizabeth Norton
Elizabeth Norton is a librarian with the U.S. National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management Research Center where she has been working to improve online access to disaster health information for the disaster medicine and public health workforce. She has presented on this topic at national and international association meetings and has provided training on disaster health information resources to first responders, educators, and librarians working with the disaster response and public health preparedness communities.

To view past webinars also hosted collaboratively with iPAC, please visit Lib2Gov.

Posted in OGR, Webinars Tagged with: , , ,

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