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Why Following Copyright Laws is Important
Copyright law was introduced in America with the founding of the United States. Included in the Constitution is regulations pertaining to copyright, "Congress shall have the power...To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Today’s copyright law is much the same. What that means is that there is a time limit set on copyrighted material. That time limit is 70 years after the author or creator dies. For example if Stephen King died this year, the copyright on his work would last until 2083. That is the current copyright law but before 1978 laws were different and have different time restrictions on them. Purdue University addresses copyright law and briefly states why these laws are important, “It provides exclusive rights to authors in order to protect their work for a limited period of time but it was also established to promote creativity and learning.” These laws don’t just insure that people are credited for their original ideas and produced material but also often insure that those people are getting paid for the material they generated. However not everything that is produced by an individual is copyrightable. To be copyrighted a work must be an original creation.
Eight categories of works are copyrightable:
• Literary, musical and dramatic works.
• Pantomimes and choreographic works.
• Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works.
• Sound recordings.
• Motion pictures and other AV works.
• Computer programs.
• Compilations of works and derivative works.
• Architectural works.
(Purdue University Copyright Office)
Only the holder of the copyright can reproduce, distribute, and create works based off of the original work. They are also the only ones who can publicly perform, including recorded audio performances, and publicly display the work (Purdue University). Yet there are exceptions to the copyright law such as public domain materials. These types of works include anything produced by government officials and anything that is outside its copyright time limits. This means that either the creator of the work has been dead for over 70 years or it was produced before 1978 and had a different time restriction placed upon it.
Guidelines and Rules for Librarians to stay within Copyright Laws
Oftentimes first a teacher must understand laws and rule before teaching those to other and the same can be said for librarians when it comes to the use of copyrighted materials. One of the easiest rules to follow is the intent of the content. If the material is being used for nonprofit or educational uses most of the time the reproduction of the work is within the limits of the copyright laws.
The Library of Congress provides a good guideline for using copyrighted materials in a public teaching setting. They have examined many of the copyright laws and looked closely at the appropriate uses of such materials. On page three in their report the Library of Congress states that there are some exceptions where reproduction of copyrighted materials is allowed, these uses include:
• News Reporting
• Teaching – such as using multiple copies for use within a classroom
Not only are these good things for librarians to remember but students as well. Since students are frequently using copyrighted materials for research projects their usage for the works falls under the exceptions.
The Price for Library Services
Library outreach and programming often involves copyrighted materials. Of particular note are movie and DVD screenings, especially those of new and popular feature films that may be only tangentially related to an educational goal, if not wholly geared towards entertainment, as these are less likely to be protected under Fair Use. "In general, public performance rights (PPR) are necessary for any screening that does not take place in the face-to-face classroom or is not a key element necessary to meet a teaching objective in an online or digital course offered by a non-profit educational institution.” (Russell 2012)
Information pertaining to a specific film's public performance rights can be tracked down through a number of methods. Contacting distributors such as Swank is often the fastest option. Library listservs, most specifically VideoLib, can put you into contact with librarians who might have had to find the very information you need at some point in their career, as well as distributers like Swank. If a library has a predetermined intention to show a movie prior to or at the time of purchase, many distributers sell DVDs and Blu-Rays bundled with their public performance rights for a slightly higher price. However, negotiating with the distributers beforehand can result in better terms for your library in many cases.
Librarians will also often use copyrighted images in publicity and outreach, especially book covers. Book covers are used in many online library catalogues as well. Section 113 of US Copyright Law is helpful in this respect. "In the case of a work lawfully reproduced in useful articles that have been offered for sale or other distribution to the public, copyright does not include any right to prevent the making, distribution, or display of pictures or photographs of such articles in connection with advertisements or commentaries related to the distribution or display of such articles, or in connection with news reports." (Copyright Law, 2013) USC Section 101 defines a useful article as "an article having an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information." (Copyright Law, 2013) This also pertains to excerpts of resources fitting the definition of useful articles, as in journal articles, movie scenes, sound recordings, and other passages.
Programming and outreach is not the only area where copyright and intellectual property laws can affect library services. Branding strategies are increasingly utilized by all types of libraries in their marketing and publicity releases. Additionally, most eBooks purchased by libraries come pre-loaded with digital rights management software designed to prevent the file from being shared out to library patrons more than twenty-seven times. It is often difficult, if not impossible, for librarians to legally obtain functional DRM-free eBooks for their library collections. DRM software is usually developed and added to the eBook files by either publishers or distributers.
Copyright and Copyleft
Most relevant to public and youth services librarians are Creative Commons license, Fair Use policy, open access policies, and the public domain. Software can be covered under 'copyleft' practices such as GNU's Free Documentation License, which bears several similarities to the ShareAlike term--one of two, with the other being Attribution--of the Creative Commons licensing system, which has become one of the most preeminent free-use policies with the rise of Wikis. Because of it's ease and convenience, Wikipedia enjoys a great deal of popular use among students, and coursework where the direct use of Wiki articles is allowed by the teacher has grown increasingly more common in recent years. Additionally, due to Wikipedia and Wikis in general being user-contributed Open Access resources, educating kids about the purposes that the content they themselves contribute can be legally used for, including commercial uses, is of paramount importance.
Free-use policies also useful for children and young adults, as there is generally less difficulty in obtaining permissions and citation information for resources under free-use protections. Moreover, because the research and resource compilation is most often geared towards coursework and class projects, students have the most exposure to Fair Use practices. Fair Use is often determined on a case-by-case basis in court proceedings, but precedences have been established over the years.
Well-known repositories for public domain resources include Project Gutenberg (an archive of over 42,000 digitized textual materials that have 'aged into' the public domain, ranging from famous classics such as Pride and Prejudice to anthologies of mythology and folklore), LibriVox (a free online audio library that uses numerous texts from Project Gutenberg), incompetech.com (royalty-free music available for commercial and personal use under a Creative Commons License), and Wikimedia Commons (a repository for Creative Commons images, sounds, and other multimedia files available for use all across the diverse gamut of wikis). Although not all of the previously mentioned resources require attribution or source citation, it is often advisable to maintain a record of your sources for convenience and legal security.
Copyright, Technology, and Censorship in Libraries
Copyright laws were historically meant to protect the rights of authors and encourage the creation of future artistic works. However, since its inception, copyright law has grown increasingly protective of the rights of copyright holders rather than the rights of creators of a work, as they are not always identical. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, as of December 2013, copyrights on works created after January 1, 1978, extends up through the life of the author plus an additional seventy years. In regards to the protection on anonymous, pseudonomys, or commissioned work, the copyright lasts for either 95 years after the initial publication date or 120 years from the year of creation, depending on whichever term is the first to expire. There are a variety of regulations and laws regarding works published prior to 1978. After a copyright expires or is no longer renewed by the copyright holder, a work will naturallyfall into the public domain and be made available for free-use, reproduction, and derivation by the general public. Some intellectual properties, most famously Mickey Mouse, are under permanent copyright protection under US law regardless of human lifespans or the renewal periods imposed on other creative works.
Libraries, as bastions of free public access to often-copyrighted resources and materials, have had many philosophical and legal altercations through over a century of tenuous balance with expanding intellectual property regulations. The advent of the Internet and the Digital Era served to further strain the wary coexistence, with librarians uniting against measures such as SOPA and PIPA in fear that they would be used as ‘stepping stones’ to implement restrictions against libraries, library employees, and library users.
Despite the prominent online protests having defeated the bills, the concerns remain. The arrest and extradition of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom in Switzerland and permanent closure of the website concerned librarians who worried that they too would be held responsible for the online activities of patrons using library resources for piracy. There were also concerns that measures similar to the Patriot Act might be put in place to impugn upon patron privacy. New York Public Library was among many libraries who took the controversial step of updating their Internet filtering software to include a large number of torrent archives and related sites; including The Pirate Bay, TorrentFreak, and download sites for torrent client applications such as Transmission, Vuze, and uTorrent. Although several of those sites feature adult advertisements and could therefore be blocked according to the Children's Internet Protection Act, the reason given by NYPL representatives was that the sites fell under the "peer-to-peer file sharing" category. (Ernesto 2013) TorrentFreak was later removed from the list of blocked sites. Other libraries and schools that similarly censored peer-to-peer file sharing repositories and resources cited a variety of reasons for doing so.
Libraries were involved in court cases levied against Google for it's Google Books initiative, due to Google having used, with permission from the various participatory libraries, library resources to find, scan, and upload books and book covers. It determined by the court system that the involvement of the libraries was protected under Fair Use practices. Copyright and intellectual property suits filed directly against libraries have resulted in educational efforts such as the American Library Association's Copyright Tools.
Additionally, Google Books has been opposed by librarians, along with groups such as the Open Content Alliance. The OCA has been contributed to by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and other universities and university libraries, the Internet Archive, Yahoo!, MSN, the European Archives, the National Archives, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and many others. The OCA aims to create a publically accessible digitized archive. Microsoft joined the Open Content Alliance in October 2008 as part of its Live Book Search enterprise, but in May 2008 announced an end to Live Book Search, adding in their announcement that “w
e are also removing our contractual restrictions placed on the digitized library content and making the scanning equipment available to our digitization partners and libraries to continue digitization programs.” (Nadyella 2008)
Copyright and Intellectual Property Issues for Young Adults Writing Research Papers
With developments in technology today students have easier access to the information they need to write papers and create research projects. With online databases available at local libraries credible articles are quickly accessible to researchers. Though this eliminates some of the hassle of searching down physical hard copies of articles problems still arise. The easy access to information can lead to a forgetfulness when it comes to giving proper credit to the creator of that information. On websites like Facebook and Twitter it has become common place to tweet out or share song lyrics or words of wisdom from other people but not give them due credit for producing the lines. The lack of proper citation has become a habit for students of all ages which means this habit often spills over into writing papers.
Because information is so readily available on many sites, finding and creating the proper citation can be difficult. Sometimes it is even hard to find the correct, original author of the work. These problems can be a reason as to why teachers want students to use databases to find credible and peer reviewed articles. These types of articles insure that the information is true and accurate. The citations within these databases are also insured to be correct because the articles are peer reviewed and found in scholarly journals. If students are uncomfortable with using databases then librarians can show them how to more effectively use Google search. The best way to do that is to look under settings on the main search page for an advanced search option. The page brought up by this looks much like a search page on a database and includes filters to change the type of results brought up in the search.
These changes in technology have resulted in changes to the copyright laws. The laws were created to try and establish clear cut rules for sharing copyrighted information in the world of technology we live in. These laws include file sharing laws that make it so “individuals would be prohibited from copying material and transferring it to others” (Out-law.com).
Helping Students to avoid Plagiarism with Citations
Many students coming into their neighborhood or school libraries need help writing research papers for class. Not only do these students need help finding relevant information for their topic but they often need help with the citations in their papers and with the work cited page at the end. Citing sources within the paper and providing a work cited page or bibliography is the easiest way to stay protected against copyright infringement. Not only does this protect the writer of the paper but give credit to the original writer and creator of the work and ideas being used in the paper.
If student are using databases as the sources for their paper most databases already have a tool on them that can generate a citation for the work cited page. Most of these can be formatted in many styles that a teacher would request. If the citation for the work cited page is not available many websites and books have easy how-to guides for students to follow. Many helpful books on this subject can be found in libraries, such as The Little, Brown Handbook.
Student can however stumble over the in-text citations.
In-text citations are needed for:
• Any work not written by the researcher such as quotations
• Data lists and sets
• Charts and graphs
To help them avoid plagiarism students need to know that not only quotes but paraphrases as well need to be cited. Paraphrasing is often looked over and goes without citation but as Janet Gardner writes, this too is an issue, “No matter how it is phrased, an original idea belongs to the person who first thought of it and wrote it down” (119-120). James Helfers, a professor at Grand Canyon University, puts it this way, “If you are learning it for the first time it is a new idea to you and needs to be cited.”
Most of the time these in-text citations the authors last name and the page number of the book needs to be included in parenthesis at the end of the sentence but inside the period.
An example would look like this, “I am always surprised by what movie studios think people will want to see” (Kaling, 148)
When no page number is provided, such as an online source, no page number in required. However if the quote is introduce with the name of the author only the page number is required. The following sentence is an example of that type of in-text citation.
Mindy Kaling writes in her book, “I am always surprised by what movie studios think people will want to see” (148).
Here is an example of the citation in MLA format for the work cited page for the above reference:
Kaling, Mindy. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?(And Other Concerns). New York: Three Rivers Press, 2011. Print.
For more help, Purdue OWL has a great page that shows how-to guides and in text examples of commonly used formats for cited materials. Having a link to the research and citations resources site close at hand can be a good reference point for students and a good refresher for teachers and librarians. The main page has easy to follow tabs on the side that show MLA, APA, and Chicago style guides. From there each page has the possible types of references listed on the side to make it easier to jump to the type of source the student has. The url for the website is
“Copyright Laws Changes Outlined by the Government.” Out-law.com. Pinsent Masons, 10 June, 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
“Copyright Overview.” University Copyright Office. Purdue University, 2009. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
Gardner, Janet E. Writing About Literature: A Portable Guide. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. Print.
Helfers, James. “Grammar and Linguistics.” Grand Canyon University. GCU Education Building, Phoenix, AZ. 14 Sept. 2009. In Class Lecture.
Kaling, Mindy. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?(And Other Concerns). New York: Three Rivers Press, 2011. Print.
Library of Congress. “Circular 21: Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians.” United States Copyright Office. Nov. 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
"Book search winding down", Live Search Blog. Official announcement from Microsoft. Last accessed May 23, 2008.
"Copyright Law: Chapter 10." U.S. Copyright Office. U.S. Copyright Office, n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.
Russell, Carrie. "Copyright Tips for Programming Librarians: Public Performance Rights." Programminglibrarian.com. 2008-2013. The Programming Librarian.
Ernesto. "New York Public Library Blocks The Pirate Bay (and TorrentFreak)." Torrentfreak.com. TorrentFreak, n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.
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