Understanding fair use

This week is Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week, which is a pretty big deal. According to the Association of Research Libraries sponsored website:

“Fair use [in the U.S.] and fair dealing [in the U.K.] are essential limitations and exceptions to copyright, allowing the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances.”

Fair use is important to librarians, since it governs how content can be “fairly” used without breaking copyright. The American Library Association has created this resource for librarians to share with their patrons. And the following graphic, commissioned by ARL and created by YIPPA, offers some essential thoughts on fair use. (Get the full graphic by clicking on the image below.) ARL-FUW-Infographic-r4-page-001

The impact of fair use on scholarship is especially important in research and academic libraries, because that’s where most people affected by fair use go. But that doesn’t mean all librarians shouldn’t be familiar with the concept. At my own public library, plenty of online students, as well as some local community college students, use our public internet and computers to get their work done. This means that when they have questions about citations and the like, we are the people they ask. Public librarians, though not forced to publish, may also wish to do so at some point in their careers. Fair use will be important in that context as well. During an “appearance” on the Circulating Ideas podcast, Jessamyn West discusses how fair use affected the publication of her own book.

But fair use is important in many other contexts as well. For all those amazing book review bloggers that we all rely on to discover our next great reads, fair use allows them to post images of book covers and short snippets of the books they are reviewing. There are plenty of people who have talked about whether book review blogs should quote the book, but The Author CEO sums it up quite well in her post on the topic. And The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shh actually discusses the fair use of book cover images in book review posts here.

Finally, I bet tons of people have spent a great deal of time on YouTube enjoying the creativity of others who relied on fair use to bring us beauties like All About the Books and the Adele – Hello (Han Solo Parody). I know I have. But fair use and YouTube has recently become an issue of concern. Hank Green of VlogBrothers discusses how the state of copyright on YouTube got so messed up in a post from 2014. But to learn more about a recent Fair Use and YouTube campaign, check out this “Where’s the Fair Use?” video from Nostalgia Critic. And search “Where’s the Fair Use?” on YouTube for plenty more videos.

So it’s fair to say (FAIR…get it?!) that it is important to stay informed on these issues, whether or not you are a librarian. If you’re interested in learning more or seeing what others are saying about fair use, visit the Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week website for a roundup of posts.


One thought on “Understanding fair use

  1. Pingback: First Sale | Beta Librarian

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