Episode Eleven: Copyright

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Topic of the Week: Copyright

  • We will start off by looking at the history of copyright, and getting some ideas about how it has developed over time. Ownership is a big deal, and the rights of a creator to the products s/he has developed are important. Copyright helps to protect that absolute right to complete ownership, and also gives the rest of us some opportunities to use the material created.
  • Copyright is federal law; so unlike most of what we discuss – it has specific meanings, and specific penalties for breaking these laws! (and they can be pretty steep – not jail but a lot of money)
  • Federal law means it only applies to the US: every country has its own copyright laws and protections for intellectual property
  • The specifics can be very tricky to master; but the basics are often the responsibility of a library to know and enforce (such as: as copyright applies to ILL of copies of articles in journals, or how photocopy machines can violate http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/copyright-libraries-photocopy-machines.html )
  • As technology changes, and formats change, violations of copyright and intellectual property become both more difficult to enforce and difficult to regulate

What is intellectual property? Under copyright law: “original works of authorship.” The Copyright Act lists examples of types of “works” that qualify: literary works; musical compositions; dramatic works; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, sculptural, and graphic works; audio-visual works; sound recordings; and architectural works. Even these fairly extensive examples do not convey the full extent of copyright’s scope.  https://archive.org/about/copyright_TH.php

You do need to do anything – you just have a copyright “whatever you created is copyrighted as soon as it is “fixed.” If you are writing the great American novel on your word processor, then the novel is being copyrighted as you enter it into your computer.”

  • I have a copyright on my dissertation – and a paper from the Copyright office to prove it!  No one is likely to go bananas trying to steal this; but they offered to do it (for a fee!) and I felt extremely self-important registering my work! It’s not too exciting looking, but if anyone is looking for me later after this becomes an Orphan (and I’m long dead) they will have a head start on tracking down my heirs to get permission to copy my work! 🙂

History of Copyright (Timeline )

  • England (we were their colony) in 1710 Parliament enacted the Statute of Anne to address the concerns of English booksellers and printers. The 1710 act established the principles of authors’ ownership of copyright and a fixed term of protection of copyrighted works (fourteen years, and renewable for fourteen more if the author was alive upon expiration). The statute prevented a monopoly on the part of the booksellers and created a “public domain” for literature by limiting terms of copyright and by ensuring that once a work was purchased the copyright owner no longer had control over its use.
  • 1787: U.S. Constitution is our first independent copyright;
  • There have been many (MANY!) laws and court cases since then making revisions

The Basics, and the Exceptions (Fair Use!):

  • Basics: intellectual property created by a person belongs to that person (with some exceptions) generally for their entire life, plus 70 years. So, nothing at all created during your lifetime will ever be available for you to use for yourself.
    • Easiest way to get around that: You pay a licensing fee – and that fee can be anything at all the copyright holder wants to charge. (So, if you want to use the latest Taylor Swift song in your own podcast, you better be ready to pay a loooot of money!)
  • And if that was it, this would be so much easier! There are exceptions, but they are just that: Exceptions. NOT, as too many assume, use that is legally mandated.
  • This is Fair Use: Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. And what are those “certain circumstances?” That’s the hard part!
    • Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes:  Courts look at how the party claiming fair use is using the copyrighted work, and are more likely to find that nonprofit educational and noncommercial uses are fair.  This does not mean, however, that all nonprofit education and noncommercial uses are fair and all commercial uses are not fair; instead, courts will balance the purpose and character of the use against the other factors below.  Additionally, “transformative” uses are more likely to be considered fair.  Transformative uses are those that add something new, with a further purpose or different character, and do not substitute for the original use of the work.
    • Nature of the copyrighted work:  This factor analyzes the degree to which the work that was used relates to copyright’s purpose of encouraging creative expression. Thus, using a more creative or imaginative work (such as a novel, movie, or song) is less likely to support a claim of a fair use than using a factual work (such as a technical article or news item). In addition, use of an unpublished work is less likely to be considered fair.
    • Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole:  Under this factor, courts look at both the quantity and quality of the copyrighted material that was used. If the use includes a large portion of the copyrighted work, fair use is less likely to be found; if the use employs only a small amount of copyrighted material, fair use is more likely. That said, some courts have found use of an entire work to be fair under certain circumstances. And in other contexts, using even a small amount of a copyrighted work was determined not to be fair because the selection was an important part—or the “heart”—of the work.
    • Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work:  Here, courts review whether, and to what extent, the unlicensed use harms the existing or future market for the copyright owner’s original work. In assessing this factor, courts consider whether the use is hurting the current market for the original work (for example, by displacing sales of the original) and/or whether the use could cause substantial harm if it were to become widespread.

Library-specific information

See the bottom of this page for many, many links with useful information!

  • Appendix One: Information for Libraries
  • Appendix Two: The New Frontier of Copyright
  • Appendix Three: Training your Patrons!

Several copyright videos – generally funny!

    • Copyright and piracy from the perspective of a content creator (and big library fan!) Neil Gaiman

  • Fair(y) Tale Use of Copyright by Stanford Law School Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University created this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.

Biggest Problem: with so much easily accessible outside of legal strategies (Game of Thrones, scientific journal articles, etc.) it is tough to explain that patrons have to go the route that may be slower, more expensive, and not as good – but legal.

When we get higher paid lobbyists, who can scream loudly, about the need to change copyright laws, that might change. Until then: Disney and other corporate copyright holders will continue to create these extremely restrictive laws that burden the rest of us.

Check out Duke Law school’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain. You can buy very cheap graphic novels to share with your patrons! (Or, they can grab free online copies – and it’s legal!)  “The public domain is the realm of material—ideas, images, sounds, discoveries, facts, texts—that is unprotected by intellectual property rights and free for all to use or build upon. Our economy, culture and technology depend on a delicate balance between that which is, and is not, protected by exclusive intellectual property rights. Both the incentives provided by intellectual property and the freedom provided by the public domain are crucial to the balance. But most contemporary attention has gone to the realm of the protected.”

Theft: A History of Music Theft! A History of Music. The book is a graphic novel (aka “comic book”)  laying out a 2000 year history of musical borrowing from Plato to rap. The comic, by James Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins and the late Keith Aoki is available as a handsome 8.5 x 11″ paperback, and for free download under a Creative Commons license.

Cover of comic, superhero with video camera and creative commons shieldA documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the “Rocky” theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? “Eyes on the Prize,” the great civil rights documentary, was pulled from circulation because the filmmakers’ rights to music and footage had expired. What’s going on here? It’s the collision of documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law, and it’s the inspiration for this new comic book. Follow its heroine Akiko as she films her documentary, and navigates the twists and turns of intellectual property. Why do we have copyrights? What’s “fair use”? Bound By Law reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture. This book is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

Books We are Reading:


Quarter-Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for a Year, by Spring Warren “When Spring Warren told her husband and two teenage boys that she wanted to grow 75 percent of all the food they consumed for one year—and that she wanted to do it in their yard—they told her she was crazy.

She did it anyway.

The Quarter-Acre Farm is Warren’s account of deciding—despite all resistance—to take control of her family’s food choices, get her hands dirty, and create a garden in her suburban yard. It’s a story of bugs, worms, rot, and failure; of learning, replanting, harvesting, and eating. The road is long and riddled with mistakes, but by the end of her yearlong experiment, Warren’s sons and husband have become her biggest fans—in fact, they’re even eager to help harvest (and eat) the beautiful bounty she brings in.

Full of tips and recipes to help anyone interested in growing and preparing at least a small part of their diet at home, The Quarter-Acre Farm is a warm, witty tale about family, food, and the incredible gratification that accompanies self-sufficiency.”


Maisie Dobbs (Book 1), by Jacqueline Winspear “Maisie Dobbs got her start as a maid in an aristocratic London household when she was thirteen. Her employer, suffragette Lady Rowan Compton, soon became her patron, taking the remarkably bright youngster under her wing. Lady Rowan’s friend, Maurice Blanche, often retained as an investigator by the European elite, recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts and helped her earn admission to the prestigious Girton College in Cambridge, where Maisie planned to complete her education.

The outbreak of war changed everything. Maisie trained as a nurse, then left for France to serve at the Front, where she found—and lost—an important part of herself. Ten years after the Armistice, in the spring of 1929, Maisie sets out on her own as a private investigator, one who has learned that coincidences are meaningful, and truth elusive. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but reveals something very different.

In the aftermath of the Great War, a former officer has founded a working farm known as The Retreat, that acts as a convalescent refuge for ex-soldiers too shattered to resume normal life. When Fate brings Maisie a second case involving The Retreat, she must finally confront the ghost that has haunted her for over a decade.”

Spotlight Library of the Week:
Library of Congress

  • The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • The Library preserves and provides access to a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire and engage you in your intellectual and creative endeavors. Whether you are new to the Library of Congress or an experienced researcher, we have a world-class staff ready to assist you online and in person.
  • The mission of Library Services is to develop qualitatively the Library’s universal collections, which document the history and further the creativity of the American people and which record and contribute to the advancement of civilization and knowledge throughout the world, and to acquire, organize, provide access to, maintain, secure, and preserve these collections.
  • Current Director: Carla Hayden
  • Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on September 14, 2016. Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library, was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama on February 24, 2016, and her nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 13.
  • Prior to her this she served, since 1993, as CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Hayden was nominated by President Obama to be a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board in January 2010 and was confirmed to that post by the Senate in June 2010.
  • Prior to joining the Pratt Library, Hayden was deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991 to 1993.
  • She was an assistant professor for Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1991.
  • Hayden was library services coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago from 1982 to 1987.
  • She began her career with the Chicago Public Library as the young adult services coordinator from 1979 to 1982 and as a library associate and children’s librarian from 1973 to 1979.
  • Office of the Librarian
    • The Office of the Librarian is the administrative branch of the Library of Congress and has overall management responsibility for the Library. It sets policy and directs and supports programs and activities to accomplish the Library’s mission.
  • Congressional Research Service
    • CRS exclusively serves Congress by providing confidential, objective and authoritative research and analysis to help inform the legislative debate.
  • Copyright Office
    • The U.S. Copyright Office administers the Nation’s copyright laws for the advancement of the public good, offers services and support to authors and users of creative works, and provides expert impartial assistance to Congress, the courts and executive branch agencies on questions of copyright law and policy.
  • Law Library
    • Congress established its Law Library in 1832, recognizing its need for ready access to reliable legal materials. The Law Library has grown over the years to become the world’s largest law library, with a collection of over three million volumes spanning the ages and covering virtually every jurisdiction in the world.


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  • This is a topic that is tough for a lot of library people; so we may be providing some webinar training material later. If you want us to come to your library to do some training, send an email and we can work it out!
  • Next week we discuss Advocacy!

Appendix One: Library Specific Information

Appendix Two:
The New Frontier of Copyright

Technologies change the copyright possibilities, and the copyright violation possibilities. When thinking about copyright in terms of papers and books, things were relatively simple to understand. Now that material can exist in an enormous amount of different formats, seen or experienced on all sorts of devices, things get complicated. And technology will continue to advance, change, and cause the potential for more complexity in this area!

  • http://www.ala.org/advocacy/copyright/dmcaThe ALA’s stand on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
  • http://libguides.hiu.edu/content.php?pid=53746&sid=393863This is a libguide with a lot of useful information about copyright! This particular tab is for the Multimedia section, and gives info and links. (As a side note: look over it for formatting – is this a good way to share info with library users? Would you do anything differently when you are The Librarian?)
  • http://www.computerworld.com/article/2530325/app-development/who-owns-the-code–beware-copyright-pitfalls.htmlA case study on collaboration on writing computer code – and the problems of copyright ownership that can arise
  • Video and Copyright ALA Library Fact Sheet  http://www.ala.org/tools/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet07Resources and Publications for Librarians and Educators
  • http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/02/19/171912826/as-3-d-printing-become-more-accessible-copyright-questions-ariseMany libraries provide access to 3D printers for patrons. Should we be monitoring what they create? How???
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qkyt1wXNlI&feature=youtu.be Copyright and piracy from the perspective of a content creator (and big library fan!) Neil Gaiman “Neil Gaiman talks to the Open Rights Group about how the internet affects the books and publishing industry”
  • http://nowiknow.com/the-hidden-reference-to-the-beatles-in-old-macs/Not strictly copyright (it’s a contract), but this is a look at how specific copyright-style legal battles can play out. The Beatles vs. Apple – who comes out a winner???
  • https://www.publicknowledge.org/assets/uploads/documents/3_Steps_for_Licensing_Your_3D_Printed_Stuff.pdf“…this paper aims to flesh out a copyright analysis for both physical objects and for the digital files that represent them, allowing you to really understand what parts of your 3D object you are—and are not—licensing.”
  • http://www.amazon.com/Will-Awesome-They-Screw-ebook/dp/B00B89W1X6This is a Kindle book to buy, if you are so inclined. I grabbed it ($4.99) and it’s pretty interesting!  “It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw it Up: 3D Printing, Intellectual Property, and the Fight Over the Next Great Disruptive Technology” by Michael Weinberg
  • Copyright in Second Life
    • A while ago, I watched an interesting documentary on Second Life; in one of the stories a woman was a clothing designer, and sued someone else for copyright infringement for stealing her designs. (“Life 2.0” – it was a little strange, and I can’t say I really enjoyed it; but I was interested in this aspect!)
    • It looks like there have been a few of these cases, and I’m posting a few links below. I was struck in the articles I read (more than I posted here) by the “ha, ha – aren’t these people silly for doing this, and for trying to say it’s real” tone many writers took in writing up the articles. The tendency to be dismissive of technologies – and the people who use them – by people who don’t actually know about them, and don’t use them, is extremely frustrating to me. We are at the beginning of an explosion of new kinds of tech as major parts of our lives; from this point in history onward things are going to be very different than they have ever been for humanity. We are barely getting into this, so teething pains are inevitable! Being snotty about the choices different people take seems like a poor choice for a reaction.
    • The need for copyright suits seems completely obvious to me; whether or not the authors (not involved in Second Life) understand what is involved, the time and effort people have put into building things is important. And, we are just at the beginning of virtual reality and alternate reality as augmented by technology; it seems like a good thing to apply some law and not let things start off in anarchy that would have to be fixed later. Second Life itself is unlikely to be the future of humanity – but some form of virtual/augmented reality is likely to be a big part of our lives over time. Thinking about it now may help us to be good at things later!
    • http://www.metrocorpcounsel.com/articles/17560/litigating-trademark-and-copyright-cases-metaverse Litigating Trademark And Copyright Cases In The Metaverse (2012)
    • http://tinyurl.com/lbxn2mv Copyright Suit Over Second Life Terraforming Survives Summary Judgment, Then Settles — FireSabre v. Linden  (2014)
    • http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/78423.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1txYjoSQQc&feature=youtu.be Who owns your data? (Hint: It’s not you) Irene Ng and David Reynolds talk about privacy and ownership in the digital age.

Open Access Explained! What is open access? Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen take us through the world of open access publishing and explain just what it’s all about. Make sure to watch it in HD and Fullscreen! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5rVH1KGBCY&feature=youtu.be

Appendix Three: Library Training

Training your Patrons Without tears and/or bloodshed
(well, not too much)

Patrons. They are the best part of your LIS job – but they are the part that will be the most problematic in the area of copyright. Most of the problems they can cause will be from ignorance of copyright rules; make your life easier – and save your patrons from legal jeopardy – by providing them with some basic training to help them use copyright effectively.

Look through some of these training materials. What does each do well? What could be better? How effective would you find this, if you were a patron/student? What kind of evaluation system does each use to ensure students have learned good things? (None! I’m shocked! Okay, I’m not – too often that is the case. Be Better Than That when you conduct training!) As a librarian/archivist, you are not the boss of anyone in your organization – but they need to listen to you. Making that happen is part of the work you need to do to provide training! (If it was easy to be LIS, everyone would be doing it!)

  • http://protect.iu.edu/cybersecurity/safeonline/filesharing/tutorialIndiana University’s copyright tutorial for faculty and staff; seems to be aimed at people who have been caught violating copyright law and need remedial work, but could be for everyone
  • http://libraries.iub.edu/copyrightNow here is IU’s actual training program – complete with an offer to do in-person training. Click around through these links. By now, the content should start to sound familiar (though there are always new and good things to learn!); how well do you think this addresses a general “learn about copyright” issue? Are you going to work in an academic environment? Definitely check out “Copyright for Instructors.” How are you going to be proactive about reaching out to this group of potential (frequent) violators?
  • http://copyright.columbia.edu/copyright/copyright-in-general/We look at the material from Columbia University on copyright, with various issues covered here. Again, click around and see what kind of information is provided, as well as looking to see what you think of the presentation
  • http://copyright.musiclibraryassoc.org/Resources/FAQMusic librarians may face frequent copyright questions; a slew of them are addressed here!
  • http://ebookfriendly.com/public-domain-copyright-infographics/Infographics can be a good way to grab people’s attention; what do you think about these? Content? Format? What works for you? What does not?
  • https://osc.hul.harvard.edu/copyright/first-respondersI like this – and it was started by a Simmons grad! “Embedded in each library, archive, or department, Copyright First Responders will develop information expertise, create a collaborative network of support among their peers involved with copyright issues, both locally and across the library, and serve as a resource for the Harvard community by answering copyright questions and sharing critical knowledge.”

Information on creating training programs


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