VRT Best Practices for Fair Use and Video Working Group

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Who are we?

We are a small group of media professionals and interested others that formed in the fall of 2007 to try to organize productive conversations around issues relating to the educational use of digital video. Our goal is to issue copyright guidelines that would be useful to librarians and educators.

Our steering group includes:

Statement of Purpose

Librarians' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use and Video

The problem:

Librarians face many challenges in interpreting copyright law to provide service and assistance to users of our video collections. A key goal of copyright is to advance learning. The Fair Use provision (section 107) of U.S. copyright law encourages socially beneficial uses of copyrighted material and is the legal bedrock for exemptions for educational institutions.

The situation has become increasingly complex over the course of the past decade. Faced with rapidly evolving technology, changes to copyright law, and pressures from the commercial world, librarians are confused about digitization, digital rights management, video reserves, licensing, and many other issues. Without a recognized body of practice, librarians have responded by developing institution-specific policies, which they are reluctant to share in this current chilled environment. At many institutions, an overly rigid approach to copyright compliance is throttling educationally valid uses of video.

Our intended outcome:

Recognizing that fair use is, in part, shaped by the professional communities that exercise it, our goal is to advocate for fair use in support of education, individual study, creative endeavor and research.

We propose to create a statement by and for librarians reaffirming the application of the fair use doctrine to the educational use of video collections with a focus on the emerging issues of digital technology. We plan to examine several classes of situations, drawn from the experiences of the video library community, and discuss the applicability fair use in these instances.

Project plan

  • Goal: We propose to create a statement by and for librarians reaffirming the application of the fair use doctrine to the educational use of video collections with a focus on the emerging issues of digital technology. We plan to create a document that describes best practices in fair use of video for librarians, including an introduction to fair use, a description of standard use cases with fair use analyses, a short glossary of terms, and brief statements about the relationship to fair use to other relevant legislation.

Meetings

The information gathering period of this initiative is concluded. Any open or closed meetings are formally scheduled with ALA Times and locations will appear in the official conference schedule.

Current Status

The project has been completed. Officially, the report "FAIR USE AND VIDEO: Community Practices in the Fair Use of Video in Libraries" http://pages.shanti.virginia.edu/Fair_Use_and_Video/2011/07/13/fairusevideo/ was published April 27th, 2012 and featured in an ALA OITP "District Dispatch" blog post Introducing “Community Practices in the Fair Use of Video in Libraries”

Additional outlets for the report are yet to be delivered as of this writing (June 8, 2012) but The Video Round Table web site will provide access to the report.

From the "District Dispatch" blog: "Librarians at schools, colleges and universities play an important role helping their users understand and apply copyright law. This makes sense because educational institutions are sites for learning, and the advancement of learning is the purpose of the copyright. Congress recognized the unique status of non-profit educational institutions, libraries and archives under copyright law and developed allowances – copyright exceptions – especially for them. But some of these exceptions are notoriously complicated and open to varying interpretations. Even keeping track of this legal patch work can be difficult." -Carrie Russell

Resources