Thursday, May 26, 2005


Yesterday I did a copyright discussion for members of the Rochester Regional Library Council. The idea was to talk a bit about copyright and Fair Use, then do some problem solving. All of the attendees were knowledgeable about copyright, but -- indeed -- is was the application of the law that "hung" them up. The questions/problems that face us are sometimes not straightforward. Add to that users who think they know best, and we all feel like burying our heads in the sand. However, yesterday we did not bury our heads; we addressed the questions head on.

One of the handouts was Quick List of Resources. Feel free to download the handout and investigate the resources listed. One attendee mentioned Copyright Bay which is also worth checking out.

I ended the session by asking what they each would do when they got back to the office. One noted that she was going to suggest sending every faculty member at her college the library's pamphlet on copyright and Fair Use. If done, that will be a good start to having an informed faculty -- one that better understands that boundaries of Fair Use. It seems like getting our teachers (at all educational levels) more knowledgeable in copyright law, AND more willing to seek proper permissions when needed, will be a tremendous step forward. They can then educate their students on how to respectfully use (or refer to) the creative works of another.

One of the topics discussed was around the word "intent." When the author created that work, what was the person's intent? Was the intent that it be shared? How did the author make his/her intent known? Intent leads us into murky waters. We quickly move from the intent of the author to the intent of the user, yet it is the author's point of view that must prevail. The only way we know an author's intent is if the person states it. As users of information, we can't assume intent -- we must know for sure. The Creative Commons help us with that.

None of the participants had heard of the Creative Commons licenses, yet many saw an area in their institution that could use it. Some of us -- like me -- have good intentions of adopting it, but haven't yet. However, these licenses would clear up those Fair Use assumptions and allow us to more readily share information. My stated task at the end of the session was to create a Creative Commons license for some of the materials I produce. Now I just need to do it!

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