Thursday, April 13, 2006

Copyright conference

Yesterday I attended a copyright conference at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. The speakers presented topics relevant to libraries and the copyright law, specifically sections 107 (fair use), 108 (libraries and archives), 109 (transfer of copies), and 110 (performance and displays, relevant for distance education).

Jule Sigall from the U.S. Copyright Office gave an update on the Report on Orphan Works. The report recommends that if a user has "performed a good faith, reasonably diligent search to locate the owner," and is unable to locate that owner, then they are free to use a copyright protected work without permission. If the copyright owner finds and objects to the use, the infringer will not be held to a monetary compensation, as long as "the infringement is performed without any purpose of direct of indirect commercial advantage." If this legislation passes, libraries will feel more comfortable distributing their vast collections of orphan works.

Kenny Crews discussed Google and Fair Use. He expressed the personal opinion that Google Print should be considered fair use, but acknowledged the fact that legally it can be argued either way. I think that providing access to books through any means can only help the publishers and authors. I've bought books from Amazon because of a hit on a keyword search. How many people would want to read an entire book online anyways? I also won Crews' Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators in a raffle, and he even signed it for me!

In the final open discussion of the day, one of the moderators stressed how important it is for librarians to keep on top of digital developments. He said that Google is changing everything, and if we're not all ready to drop our job descriptions and learn new skills as necessary, we're not going to be able to keep up. I'm excited about the challenge, and welcome new developments!

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