The First Sale Doctrine is what legally allows libraries to share information. This doctrine is a “set of exemptions to U.S. copyright law that permit consumers to resell used books or DVDs and libraries to loan books without seeking permission from publishers.” It is now being rethought because so much information is published in digital form. And, so librarians and everyone else devoted to information sharing needs to strongly advocate for fair use of both print and digital information as we start to see court cases and legislation involving information sharing.

Put down the pom-poms for now. Last month’s appeal of the GSU eReserves case didn’t bode so well for fair use as it did the first time around. EReserves and fair use continue to be highly (mis)interpretable. Duke U’s Kevin Smith provides a useful summary.

Too often the joy of having an article accepted for publication is mitigated by the legal hoops involved in getting permissions deemed necessary to print images (or rather, wondering and never quite knowing if you really need permission). At least one journal is making a clear and proactive argument that authors can claim fair use for their accompanying images. See the nonprofit Woman’s Art Journal‘s guidelines, specifically the section on photographic materials. Hopefully there are other publications with similar protocols and will be more in the future.

Google Books: case disimissed

November 14th, 2013

Federal judge Denny Chin’s decision today marks a fair use victory and the end of a nearly eight-year battle with publishers and authors. Hot off the press (searchable!) key words  include: snippets, thumbnails, transformative, public benefit, and more. Read all about it!

You are invited to a screening and discussion of the highlights of the webinar “How Recent Copyright Court Cases Affect Distance Education: What Educators Need to Know About Copyright”  led by Professor Linda Enghagen, J.D.

Subject matter includes:

  • Developing a working understanding of the transformative use doctrine
  • Learning practical strategies for employing the transformative use doctrine in course design and delivery
  • Developing a working knowledge of best practices in fair use

When: Thursday, Dec 5, 2013, 10am-12pm (the morning of the CUNY IT Conference)
Where: John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New Building, 9th floor conference room (Rm 09.64)

This event is open to anyone in CUNY. RSVP by November 22 to Kathleen Collins.



Digital Library Under Attack

August 22nd, 2013

To kick off the academic year, a dose of fair use hubbub. The nonprofit Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence provides a library for paying members that contains 1,200 digitized books. The organization’s director is being sued by Harvard Business School, the University of Chicago and John Wiley & Sons for unauthorized use of the items. Director Michael Lissack is countersuing, claiming a fair use defense. The organization’s web site has issued an SOS to help enlighten visitors about the lawsuit. This story contains all the elements of a juicy fair use case and will be interesting to watch.

The Center for Social Media has issued another valuable set of fair use best practices. Though this one was developed by and for journalists, it is useful for anyone creating media – and that is a lot of us.

The Center for Intellectual Property will host a Community Conversation with the Association of Research Libraries’ Brandon Butler about  the Kirtsaeng v. Wiley & Sons case on May 21 from 1-2pm EST. If you are interested in attending this free, virtual event which is for CIP members, please contact Kathleen Collins prior to May 20.

Here’s a new one to add to your growing copyright and fair use collection: Copyright Questions and Answers for Information Professionals: From the Columns of Against the Grain.  The author, law professor Laura Gasaway, is a regular contributor on copyright issues for the library/publishing news site, Against the Grain. “It’s like a more extensive version of The Code,” writes one CUNY librarian who recommends the book, “in that it gives detailed answers to great questions very specific to our field – and it comes highly endorsed by Kenneth Crews, among others.” As always, keep in mind that such information-rich resources like this are by no means the province of librarians only. All of us in higher education have to wrestle with copyright and fair use questions, and it behooves us to try to get a grip on them.



 Join Us for a Free Online Seminar sponsored by the CUNY Office of Library Services; Presented by Magna Online Seminars

 “How Recent Copyright Court Cases Affect Distance Education:

What Educators Need to Know About Copyright”

Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 2pm-4pm

John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lloyd Sealy Library Classroom, 899 10th Ave.

Presenter Linda Enghagen, University of Massachusetts at Amherst is the author of Fair Use Guidelines for Educators. Professor Enghagen will guide us through a review of best practices in fair use, including distribution of course material and assignment design.  The webinar will show you how to establish and implement policies to assure copyright compliance.

After participating in the seminar, you can be confident about distributing materials and assignments in your distance courses. You will:

  • Develop a working understanding of the transformative use doctrine
  • Learn practical strategies for employing the transformative use doctrine in course design and delivery
  • Develop a working knowledge of best practices in fair use

The online seminar is open to anyone in CUNY.  We encourage all to attend, especially:

  • Administrators developing and implementing online programs
  • Instructional designers
  • Faculty
  • Librarians

RSVP by April 19: Kathleen Collins,