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Copyright information now available on Libraries’ web site

by Suzanne Zack - January 22, 2007

Is copying material for an educational purpose considered fair use and acceptable under copyright law?

Can a faculty member copy chapters from a textbook and distribute them to students?

Can videos be shown in class without permission from the copyright owner?

The answers to these questions and many more can now be found at the University Libraries' new copyright web site.

The answers are as follows:

No. Using copyrighted work for educational purposes doesn't automatically constitute fair use.

Fair use is determined on a case-by-case basis, which takes into account four factors - purpose and nature of the use, nature of the copyrighted work, amount and substance of the copies, and effect on the market or value of the copyrighted work;

No. This is not considered fair use.

The market for the textbook is directly affected by this activity, since the students would otherwise have to purchase the book and increase sales in their primary market;

Yes. Copyright law permits showing of a lawfully acquired video, providing the showing is not advertised to the public.

These days it is so easy to copy and distribute copyrighted materials digitally on local computer networks and the Internet, the need to know what your rights and responsibilities are under the law is greater than ever, says Brinley Franklin, vice provost for University Libraries.

The Libraries' copyright web site provides users with valuable information and tools to help them navigate the complexities of copyright law in the digital age.

"The issue of fair use in the electronic environment is still evolving," Franklin says.

"It's important for the academic community to use copyrighted materials in electronic course reserves, course web sites, and course management systems responsibly, or it may put at risk the future of fair use in the electronic domain.

"The Libraries worked with the University community and legal counsel to establish practices that meet institutional needs while respecting the principles of copyright and fair use," he adds.

"Our copyright team has developed a web site of considerable value to the UConn community."

The web site, developed by Barbara Oakley, Betsy Pittman, and Tracey Rudnick, contains a range of useful information about copyright. Fundamentals of copyright law are included in the section on "Copyright Basics."

Information about fair use and reproducing the works of others are clearly spelled out, with examples and links to other resources beyond the site.

"Copyright Guidelines" covers activities common throughout institutions of higher education.

The section on "Library Services" contains information for library users and staff alike.

There are statements for mediated and self-service copying, interlibrary lending and borrowing, and course reserve that clearly delineate library and user responsibilities.

"Publishing Your Work" gives authors, composers, and other creators information and tools to help them retain some rights to publication, performance, or future research and teaching uses.

According to Keith Barker, associate vice provost and director of the Institute for Teaching and Learning, the question relating to copyright that arises most frequently is whether copyrighted materials can be used in teaching.

"I usually refer to fair use and the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act - or TEACH - Act," says Barker.

"TEACH updates copyright law pertaining to transmissions of performances and displays of copyrighted materials, which are critical to current higher education distance education efforts, including online courses," he says.

"I assure faculty and TAs that there is a lot of latitude in using graphics, photos, audio, and video in class for educational, non-profit, purposes - as I do myself. But storing such material, even in a password-protected environment, should be taken seriously and used cautiously," he adds.

"The Libraries' copyright site should provide a healthy approach to the balance we face as educators in using others' materials."

The web site is part of a larger initiative by the Libraries to increase copyright awareness at the University.

In April 2006, the Libraries sponsored a forum "Whose Rights & Who's Right: Copyright in the Digital Age."

The Libraries also recently produced a brochure that describes authors' rights under copyright law; it will be distributed to members of the community in the near future.

In addition, liaison librarians will be discussing the new resource with their respective departments.

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