Empowering Our Users With Fair Use
Editor’s Note: Working at an academic institution in Philadelphia had its advantages recently for providing proximity to a significant event – the formal release of the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. My colleague Kristina De Voe, Reference Librarian for English & Communications at Temple University, attended the event. Here she shares some observations and thoughts from the event, along with some useful links. Many thanks to Kristina for contributing this guest post.
On November 11, 2008 I attended the release event for the much anticipated Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, a succinct, easy-to-understand document outlining the concepts and techniques for interpreting the copyright doctrine of fair use. Fittingly taking place at Philadelphiaâ€™s National Constitution Center and coordinated by The Center for Social Media, The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, and Temple Universityâ€™s Media Education Lab, the event was attended by fair use stakeholders: educators, students, copyright lawyers, and librarians.
An archived stream of the event is available, but as media literacy maven Renee Hobbs and other panelists spoke on the significance of the Code in terms of both teaching and student learning, I was struck by their sheer call to action. Here is a document that we as librarians can use as a teaching and learning tool with our faculty, our students, and one another.
Whether helping faculty design amazing curricula or helping students with research projects, promoting a stronger culture of fair use within our institutions allows us to help empower our users in accessing and utilizing media rich resources â€“ available from our libraries or elsewhere. It is no surprise to me that comments about the Code from librarians were celebratory (there were cries of â€œHallelujahâ€ and even â€œThis rocked my word!â€) because too often, I think, we become bogged down by the image of librarians as gatekeepers of information.
This code offers librarians a new role as well as a fresh way for integrating information literacy concepts into practice. For example, the organizers of the event created a corresponding wiki, â€œUnlocking Copyright Confusion,â€ filling it with curriculum materials for teaching about fair use, in addition to a space for continued dialogue. Joining in or simply starting a conversation about fair use with educators and fellow librarians just may lead to unexpected discoveries.