Managing Copyright in a Digital World

Managing Copyright in a Digital World

Donna L. Ferullo (Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA) and Aline Soules (California State University, East Bay, Hayward, CA, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/ijdls.2012100101
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The article begins with a brief overview of copyright law and an examination of those laws that have been enacted in recent years to delineate appropriate uses of information in the electronic environment. Also discussed are copyright movements such as Creative Commons and Open Access. The impact of copyright is then discussed in relation to various types of electronic information and resources, and their delivery. Examples include course management systems, e-reserves, and streaming video and key copyright cases are discussed. The article ends with a discussion of future copyright trends.
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Introduction And Background

An understanding of the nuances of copyright law and its relationship with other areas of library law is critical for anyone whose responsibilities include electronic resource management. Today, that encompasses almost everyone. There are basic elements of copyright that apply to all information resources, regardless of format, but the emergence of electronic resources and their characteristics have brought particular concerns into bold view. New laws have been enacted to try to deal with these concerns and the cycle continues as new concerns arise and new bills are introduced to deal with them.

For a long time, people knew that copyright existed. If they were employed in the library, they took steps to inform the public of various limitations, e.g., by posting official notices on copying machines (U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 21, 1998) or by using the guidelines set forth in such documents as the revised Guidelines for Classroom Copying of Books and Periodicals (2001), agreed to by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors League of America. However, copyright was, in large measure, disconnected from the daily work or something that was dealt with if a problem arose.

Now, electronic resources are a primary method of delivering information, copyright is becoming an integral part of daily work, and the “gray” areas that were laid aside for so long are front and center. In some ways, these laws have been with us for some time, but now they are under intense scrutiny. In other ways, there are new considerations to incorporate.

Before reviewing the basics of copyright in order to consider how they apply to electronic resources, it is important to describe briefly the scope of electronic resources. In this article, the term is intended to encompass a broad range of platforms and electronic information. Often, librarians deal with one or other aspect of electronic resources, e.g., database licensing or e-reserves. The position of “Electronic Resources Librarian,” for example, originally emerged as a specialty to deal with the management of digital resources (Bergman, 2005) and definitions of “electronic resources” are often limited by the context in which the term is used, such as what is covered in ERM modules managed by technical services departments. Today, however, every librarian deals with electronic resources from library-subscribed resources to e-resources available through the web and this article will look at the implications of these resources and their delivery.

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