Copyright Policy

Library and Academic Computing staff met today to start a discussion of copyright policy. When we looked at library practices in our DAM working group, it quickly became clear that A.) copyright practices vary widely among the different areas of the library (books, reserves, music and slides are all handled differently) and B.) fear of infringing copyright is a driving force in decision-making.

In order to bring our varying practices into accord, we need a library-wide policy on copyright. And in order to write that policy, we need to learn much more about copyright — we’ll try to reduce the fear of infringement by reducing the uncertainty involved. Unfortunately this area of law is relatively unsettled, and certainty may only be found in the courtroom. But if/when it comes to that, it will help us and other libraries and colleges to have a robust established policy. The opposite, a history of compliance with publishing industry demands, will only work against us. Either way, having an established policy is a crucial first step.

For the next steps, we’ll be bringing in expert speakers on copyright and colleges and libraries. Each of the group participants will also do some research about existing copyright practices in their field to bring to the next meeting. In the longer term, we’ll need to educate other SLC community members about these issues and work towards a campus-wide policy.

I’m very happy just to start the discussion, and quite optimistic that we can come up with a consensus that works with everyone’s interests. If anyone wants to contribute research material, please post a link in the comments of my previous post, Copyright Resources.

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