No doubt ACRLog’s readers noted publicity about Cornell’s copyright policy when it was covered late last month in the Chron. A new fair use checklist was drafted after the Association of American Publishers complained that professors were behaving badly, putting things online in ways that violated copyright. I read it. No big deal. Nothing we haven’t already thought about at our library.
So, the other day I got a “news alert” from the Copyright Clearance Center that breathlessly announced:
Faculty must obtain rightsholder permission for the use of electronic course materials just as they would for print content. That message was delivered to Cornell University faculty and students earlier this month in a new set of copyright guidelines jointly drafted by officials from Cornell and the Association of American Publishers (AAP).
E-reserves are covered by copyright? This is news?
Of course copyright applies to e-reserves, and it’s disingenuous to suggest it never occured to us (or to Cornell) until publishers showed up with lawyers. It’s also disingenuous to suggest that by providing faculty with a checklist on fair use, the AAP and Cornell have set new legal precedent. As Carrie Russell, Copyright Specialist at ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy, recently pointed out to readers of COLLIB-L, Congress sets law, and courts interpret it. Not publishing organizations. Meanwhile, between the text of the law and the court opinions, we do our best. What libraries don’t do, and never have done, is routinely and knowingly violate the law.
Check out the Copyright Advisory Network or sign on to the Digital Copyright list from the University of Maryland’s Center for Intellectual Property to keep up with copyright news. Just don’t assume that what publishers say is the final word on copyright.