In a series of pieces on copyright, the Chronicle of Higher of Education has covered Golan v. Holder, an upcoming Supreme Court case that challenges a 1994 law that reinstated copyright on a large number of public domain works; the challenges that libraries face over the sharing of orphan works in their collections; and two current copyright infringement lawsuits brought against universities. It is also running a slide show, “Major Works Affected by U.S. Copyright Law,” and a copyright primer for academia called “What You Don’t Know about Copyright, but Should.”
It’s a good resource if you’re looking to get up-to-speed on matters of copyright, and particularly how they affect academia and libraries.
But perhaps the most interesting, or hopeful, among these stories is “Pushing Back Against Legal Threats by Putting Fair Use Forward.” The article features a pair of authors from American University—Patricia Aufderheide, a film-studies professor, and Peter Jaszi, a law professor—who have written a book called Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright.
The book, due out this summer from the University of Chicago Press, is the latest step in the duo’s fight against what they call misperceptions about the fair-use rules of U.S. copyright law. While some copyright reformers lobby Congress for new laws, and others fight existing laws, Ms. Aufderheide and Mr. Jaszi have focused on educating scholars and artists about rights they already have but may not know about. The professors’ guidelines note that risk is often overstated, and that the law allows more latitude than people often think.
Fair use rights have arguably been made smaller by people’s failure to exercise them. If Aufderheide and Jaszi are right, it’s not too late to restore them.