As I was writing my post on Understanding Fair Use, I realized that not only do few people understand it, it often gets confused with First Sale, an entirely different but even more essential component of copyright law, especially for libraries. I say this because that’s what my brain did. I mushed the two together. So, I thought it only prudent to clarify, if only for myself, the finer points of the First Sale Doctrine and why it is so important to libraries, not to mention used booksellers, both physical stores and digital providers (think Amazon Marketplace or eBay). But this post will just focus on libraries.
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.)
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. Continue reading