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New Code of Best Practices in Fair Use Released

Today, January 26, 2012, the Center for Social Media at American University, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and the Washington College of Law at American University released its Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, part of a series of codes developed by practitioner communities that are designed to assist those communities in interpreting and applying fair use under United States copyright law.  The code was developed through interviews at a diverse array of academic and research institutions throughout the United States. 

The results demonstrated that fair use is an essential component of copyright exemptions, and also that the community lacked a clear sense of what they and their peers might agree to as appropriate employment of fair use in recurrent situations.  The code identifies eight sets of common current practices in the use of copyrighted materials in and around academic and research libraries, to which the doctrine of fair use can be applied.  It articulates principles describing generally how and why fair use applies to each such practice or situation. Each principle is accompanied by a list of considerations that the library community believes should inform or qualify it: limitations that should be observed to assure that the case for fair use is strong, and enhancements that could further strengthen that case.

While the majority of the practices are mainstream library concerns, two stand out as exploring new fair use ground for our campus communities in the digital environment.  These are:

  • Creating Databases to Facilitate Non- Consumptive Research Uses (including search)
  • Collecting Material Posted on the World Wide Web and Making it Available

The sponsors hosted a webinar that was recorded and available on ARL’s YouTube channel.  Also a set of tools to augment the Code, including videos, slides, and briefings, is available at each organization’s website.

EDUCAUSE will continue to monitor and report on this fair use issue.

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