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Battling Over Fair Use in the Classroom

Copying practices in the academic world were again thrown into legal disarray when a federal appellate court reversed a fair use finding in favor of Georgia State University (GSU) in its long-standing copyright dispute with several academic publishers.

The practice of selecting excerpted readings for use in classrooms has a long history. In the analog days, teachers would select readings for classroom use and arrange the creation of a “course pack”—a copied and printed collection of readings that would be compiled and distributed to students. When the Copyright Act of 1976 was being formulated, the U.S. House of Representatives developed a series of agreements known as the Classroom Guidelines. These guidelines established certain minimum “safe harbors” for copying for classroom use, including rules that specified the copying of sources such as a single chapter from a book, articles of 2,500 words or fewer, or book sections or chapters of up to 1,000 words or 10% of the work.

The guidelines did not have the force of law and were tested in two court decisions (Basic Books, Inc. v. Kinko’s Graphics Corp. and Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Services, Inc.) known as the course pack cases.

Read the rest of George Pike’s reporting at Appeals Court Reverses Georgia State Fair Use Decision.

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Copyright Questions: Academic Journals

This is one of a series of questions submitted by attendees of the Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar and answered by Laura N. Gasaway, author of Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers.

Laura N. GasawayQuestion: I work on academic journals, and we often run into situations in which authors “resubmit” papers based on research that has appeared in some form in another association’s conference proceedings. Excluding a one-for-one reproduction of a work, what are the copyright implications when one version of a paper serves as a “launching point” for a new version? For example, a submitted article might draw from the authors’ same core research and demonstrate overlap in its foundational discussion, but present findings and implications that are unique to the new article and are targeted and, to some extent, rewritten to appeal to a particular journal’s interests.

Answer: This is a complex question so lets break it down into parts.

1. What are the general copyright concerns in this situation?

Assuming that the author retained the copyright from the first paper, then publishing a later version with your journal is no problem. The author owns the derivative right which includes the right to prepare new versions. A new version has a new copyright in the new material added, but anything used from the earlier version has the copyright from the earlier version. If the author held on to the copyright then there is no problem.

2. What burden is on the respective publishers?

They need to make sure that the author actually did not transfer the copyright to a previous version to someone else. Typically, just presenting a paper at a conference does not require a transfer of copyright, so the author likely still owns it. Unfortunately, authors often have no idea whether they transferred the copyright. In that situation, you might require the author to indemnify the journal should someone else own the copyright and complain.

3. What burden falls on the author(s)?

Authors should be aware whether they own their own copyrights! This is unlikely to happen, however. If the author transferred the copyright to another publisher, then the author who creates a new version is infringing on the copyright (which he or she no longer owns). That is one of the reasons that I encourage publishers to take only the rights they need – reproduction and distribution, plus the electronic rights – but not the derivative right. Conversely, we also publish proceeding papers from our own conferences (for which we hold copyright) that authors often want to adapt into new articles for other journals.

So, does the journal actually own the copyright in each individual paper or in the compilation of the papers that is published as proceedings? To own each article, each author must execute a signed transfer to the journal which transfers the copyright to the journal for the individual paper. Many publishers understand this and are not so rigid about individual authors having to transfer the entire copyright. It is the compilation that the publisher sells. If it is important for the journal to own the copyright in the individual article, I would suggest that you consider whether you can let the derivative right remain with the author.  

Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris Hanney contains information vital to the publishing community.

Learn more about how copyright law affects your work or order it now.

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Copyright Questions: Educational Use

This is one of a series of questions submitted by attendees of the Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar and answered by Laura N. Gasaway, author of Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers.

Laura N. GasawayQuestion: Can a teacher/professor make a copy of a single article from an owned journal and give it to every student in the class?

Answer: Generally yes, if the article is being used for nonprofit education. At the time the Copyright Act was enacted, there were guidelines that were developed by publishers and educational association representatives called “The Guidelines on Multiple Copying for Classroom Use.” These were published in the House Report that accompanied the Act and therefore have a big stamp of Congress on them. They may be found here.

There are restrictions found in these guidelines, such as the length of the article, the fact that the decision to use the item was made too late to seek permission, a restriction on the number of articles per term, no charge for the copy beyond the actual cost of copying, copies must contain the notice of copyright and no repetition with respect to the same item without seeking permission. Further, many argue that such copying for a classroom is a fair use. The Georgia State litigation eventually will answer this question.  

Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris Hanney contains information vital to the publishing community.

Learn more about how copyright law affects your work or order it now.

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Copyright Questions: Museum Artifacts

This is one of a series of questions submitted by attendees of the Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar and answered by Laura N. Gasaway, author of Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers.

Laura N. GasawayQuestion: Suppose an author has taken a picture of an ancient object and wishes to publish it. Must the author also get permission from the institution that owns the object? Put another way, does a group that owns an object have intellectual property rights over images of that object, no matter who takes the image?

Answer: The institution that owns the object certainly can control access to that object in order to protect it, or just because it wants to do so. But access is not intellectual property ownership. When you use the term “ancient object,” I envision an artifact such as a stone statute, piece of jewelry or some other artifact, and not a painting. In the past, museums often refused to allow photographing of paintings due to the potential for damage due to flashbulb use. We don’t really have that issue today with digital photography, however.

So, with an ancient object, a photograph is unlikely to damage the work, so that is not the issue. Again, in the past institutions such as museums sold photographs of objects in their collections and counted on that income. Today, however, more museums are recognizing that photographs of objects they own may be taken by anyone with a cell phone. Only someone who wants a very high quality photograph of the object is going to buy the ones they sell.

The institution does not have intellectual property rights in the object (which would be in the public domain, anyway). Their only interest is in preserving the work if photography would somehow damage it, and that is pretty unlikely with digital cameras. So, if the institution tries to impose restrictions on photography, argue with them!  

Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris Hanney contains information vital to the publishing community.

Learn more about how copyright law affects your work or order it now.

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Happy Retirement Bonnie!

Bonnie B. Hawkwood

Bonnie B. Hawkwood

Bonnie Hawkwood has spent her career serving the library and electronic publishing communities by developing and producing databases for librarians, business professionals, students, and physicians. Her specialties are eBook platforms and periodical aggregation.

Bonnie was employed at Thomson Gale in roles ranging from business development to product management. Before joining Gale, she directed the startup of the editorial department for MD Consult in St. Louis. Her career began with abstracting, indexing, and editorial management at Data Courier, which was acquired by UMI (now ProQuest).

Originally from Cincinnati, Bonnie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Vanderbilt University.

We are grateful that Bonnie finished out her career with Unlimited Priorities and we were honored to work with her.

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Copyright Questions: Guest Blogging

This is one of a series of questions submitted by attendees of the Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar and answered by Laura N. Gasaway, author of Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers.

Laura N. GasawayQuestion: If a company has a blog page on its website, does the company own copyright of what is posted by guest bloggers, or does there need to be some sort of agreement between guest bloggers and the hosting site? In other words, the company owns the content on its site, but do guest blogs become the property of the company website, or does the guest blogger hold all rights to what they wrote (absent a formal agreement)?

Answer: The author of the individual blog post owns the copyright in his or her original posting. The only exception is if the blogger is a company employee and company policy is that it owns all of the rights to works produced by the employee in the course of his or her employment. Because you used the term “guest blogger” my assumption is that the blogger is not an employee of your company.

If your company wants to own the copyright in the blog content created by the guest blogger, then a written transfer of copyright from the blogger to the company is required. Many bloggers would not agree to this, but the company still may want to ask. If the blogger refuses, them the company will have the choice of letting the blogger go ahead and retain the copyright, or not permitting the blogger to write for the company blog.  

Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris Hanney contains information vital to the publishing community.

Learn more about how copyright law affects your work or order it now.

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Copyright Questions: Facebook Photos

This is one of a series of questions submitted by attendees of the Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar and answered by Laura N. Gasaway, author of Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers.

Laura N. GasawayQuestion: My photos have been published in a book and are already copyrighted by the publisher. I have been told that if I post these photos on Facebook, they (Facebook) will now own the copyright. Is this true or false?

Answer: First of all, no, posting photos to social media does not transfer copyright.  Whether or not you can legally post the photos depends on the transfer agreement you signed when you assigned the copyright to the publisher. If you reserved any rights, or did not specifically transfer the electronic rights, you would have the right to use the photographs that you “authored.” The publisher certainly is behaving as if you assigned the entire copyright to it, but that may not be the case. Publishers sometimes claim that they have rights they don’t actually own. You need to check that agreement, or have someone check it for you.  

Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris Hanney contains information vital to the publishing community.

Learn more about how copyright law affects your work or order it now.

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Copyright Questions: Paraphrases and Quotes

This is one of a series of questions submitted by attendees of the Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar and answered by Laura N. Gasaway, author of Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers.

Laura N. GasawayQuestion: How can you tell whether a paraphrased idea needs permission as opposed to simply including a footnote after the paraphrased idea that cites the original source?

Answer: Permission to paraphrase is not what is needed. It is permission to use if the portion used is the length of something for which you would need permission to reproduce. So, assume that the portion you want to use and paraphrase is several pages long and thus is pretty substantial. The paraphrase will be a bit shorter, but still relatively substantial (maybe half the length of the original). In all likelihood, you would need permission for the direct quote (reproduction), but it is a judgment call as to whether you would need to seek permission for the paraphrase. On the other hand, if it is a short quote or paraphrase, no permission would be needed. Of course, you also need to cite the author.  

Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris Hanney contains information vital to the publishing community.

Learn more about how copyright law affects your work or order it now.

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NISO & The Future of eTextbooks

NISO (National Information Standards Organization) hosted a two-part webinar on Sept. 10 and 17. E-books for Education explored definitions, content, access, and open access (OA) issues affecting the present state and future course of ebooks for education.

NISO “identifies, develops, maintains, and publishes technical standards to manage information in our changing and ever-more digital environment. NISO standards apply both traditional and new technologies to the full range of information-related needs, including retrieval, re-purposing, storage, metadata, and preservation.” It is time, it seems, to apply some technical standards to etextbooks.

Visit this Information Today Newsbreak for Woody Evans report on the webinar.

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Evolving Encyclopaedia Britannica

Although Chicago-based Encyclopaedia Britannica, shelved its venerable print edition in favor of a digital-only version more than two years ago, is looking to reclaim its legacy as the household reference of choice.

EB AdvertisementThe 246-year-old, privately held company is shifting its virtual encyclopedia toward a free, advertising-supported model, believing it is poised to click with a new generation of online knowledge consumers.

“I think that most people in the consumer space would prefer to use Britannica to many other alternatives,” said Jorge Cauz, 52, Encyclopaedia Britannica’s president. “Whenever Britannica appears on search engines, we have a pretty amazing click-through rate.”

Once the undisputed king of reference libraries, with armies of door-to-door salesmen peddling the expensive multivolume sets to families across the globe, Britannica has struggled to find its place in the digital age, where user-generated Wikipedia offers something on just about everything for free.

Hoping to boost site traffic and grow advertising revenue, Cauz has opened about half of Britannica’s online database to the public at no charge. Two years ago, 80 percent of the articles were behind a pay wall, accessible only to subscribers.

Read the rest the Robert Channick’s report –  Encyclopaedia Britannica sees digital growth, aims to draw new users – in the Chicago Tribune.

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