Debunking Common Misconceptions and Myths

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This article was downloaded by: [University Of Pittsburgh]On: 12 November 2014, At: 20:03Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UKCollege & Undergraduate LibrariesPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: Common Misconceptions andMythsJeffrey D. Graveline aa Mervyn H. Sterne Library , University of Alabama at Birmingham ,USAPublished online: 26 Feb 2010.To cite this article: Jeffrey D. Graveline (2010) Debunking Common Misconceptions and Myths,College & Undergraduate Libraries, 17:1, 100-105, DOI: 10.1080/10691310903584650To link to this article: SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. 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Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at & Undergraduate Libraries, 17:100105, 2010Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1069-1316 print / 1545-2530 onlineDOI: 10.1080/10691310903584650COPYRIGHT AND ACADEMIADebunking Common Misconceptionsand MythsJEFFREY D. GRAVELINEMervyn H. Sterne Library, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USAFew words strike fear into the hearts of college faculty and ad-ministrators like copyright infringement. Misunderstandings andmisinformation about copyright run rampant on college campusestoday, and these can lead to restricting classroom teaching or evenliability for copyright infringement. In this column, I begin with ashort overview of copyright and fair use followed by a discussion ofsome of the more common copyright myths I have encountered overthe past few years. The purpose of this column is to explore someof the common copyright myths and misconceptions regularly seenon college campuses. Conversations with librarians and facultyaround the country indicate that these seem to be fairly universalmisconceptions. All of the examples presented are actual, real-lifescenarios that I have seen over the past few years.KEYWORDS Author rights, copyright, fair use, institutional repos-itory, plagiarismFew words strike fear into the hearts of college faculty and administratorslike copyright infringement. Well, perhaps tenure committee or university-wide working group, but copyright infringement ranks right up there. Mis-understanding feeds this fear and misconceptions about copyright run ram-pant on college campuses. These misconceptions often lead to faculty takingone of two positions on copyright compliance: overly cautious or not cau-tious enough. Being overly cautious may stifle classroom teaching, while notbeing cautious enough may open up the faculty member and the universityto liability for copyright infringement. It is a fine line to walk.To appreciate these misconceptions, one must first understand the basicsof copyright. So, first things first. What is copyright? The dictionary definesAddress correspondence and column proposals to Jeffrey D. Graveline, JD, MLIS, Refer-ence Librarian for Business and Government Documents, Mervyn H. Sterne Library, Universityof Alabama at Birmingham, SL 172, 1530 3rd Ave. South, Birmingham, AL 35294. E-mail:jgraveli@uab.edu100Downloaded by [University Of Pittsburgh] at 20:03 12 November 2014 Copyright and Academia 101copyright as the protection of the works of artists and authors giving themthe exclusive rights to publish their works or determine who may so publish.While this is a great starting point, it paints only part of the picture andraises additional questions such as what types of works are protected, whatexclusive rights are granted, and are there any exceptions?Everyone knows that literary works such as books and articles areprotected by copyright. However, copyright also protects pictures, paint-ings, photographs, music, movies, and architectural works. Unpublishedworks such as letters and journals are also protected by copyright. In le-gal terms, copyright protection begins at the moment the original workof authorship [is] fixed in any tangible medium of expression, that is,when it is put into some permanent form, be it written on paper, savedas a computer file or even painted on a canvas. The authors exclusiverights are set out in the copyright code and include the right to reproducethe work, prepare derivative works, and distribute copies of the work. Acomplete listing of exclusive rights can be found at U.S. Code 17 (2000),106 ( Another impor-tant point to remember is that the copyright holder is not always the authoror creator. This is particularly true in academia where authors often assigntheir copyright, in whole or in part, to publishers through publisher or authoragreements in exchange for publication of an article or manuscript.Then there is fair use, a term everyone has heard but may not completelyunderstand. I like to think of fair use as a freebie. Without getting into toomany technicalities, fair use allows you to use a reasonable portion of acopyrighted work without the copyright holders permission under certaincircumstances. To determine if your usage falls within fair use, you shouldbalance these four factors:1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of acommercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes2. The nature of the copyrighted work3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copy-righted work as a whole4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copy-righted workUsing these factors, you can determine if the proposed use weighs in favorof or against fair use. Fair use determinations are rarely black and white,however, and cannot be reduced to a simple formula. There is often un-certainty and second guessing. Yet, if you use common sense and one ofthe useful online Fair Use Checklists, you should feel confident in yourdecision.With the background material out of the way, the rest of the column willexamine some of the most common copyright myths and misconceptions.Downloaded by [University Of Pittsburgh] at 20:03 12 November 2014 102 Copyright and AcademiaIt is for an educational purpose so it must be fair use.This is likely the most common misconception that I hear, and it comesfrom all quarters of the universityfaculty, administration, staff, and stu-dents. While fair use certainly provides broad protection for classroom andeducational uses, it is by no means a blanket protection to use copyrightedmaterials without permission. Lets get to the reasons why some peoplemistakenly think fair use protects all educational uses.Section 107 of the copyright code says that the fair use of copyrightedworks for the purposes of teaching (including multiple copies for classroomuse), scholarship, or research is not a copyright infringement. Based onthat language, I can understand why some people may conclude that alleducational purposes are fair use. However, in practice this does not meanevery possible use relating to teaching, scholarship, or research is fair use.For example, copying an entire book or creating a course pack by copyingand posting articles would not likely be fair use.The key thing to remember is that fair use is not a science. Peopleoften disagree over whether a particular use is fair use. Why else wouldthere be copyright lawyers, right? As I mentioned earlier, if you plan to usea copyrighted work and feel the use is protected by fair use, it is alwaysadvisable to complete a Fair Use Checklist. The Fair Use Checklist from Cor-nell is an excellent choice. Use Checklist.pdfThe checklists are easy to use. They are typically divided into foursections corresponding to the four fair use factors. Each section is dividedinto four columns, one weighing in favor of fair use and the other againstit, with various uses and other items listed. When you look at a checklistyou will notice that many of the items weighing in favor of fair use relateto educational or teaching purposes. Once you complete the checklist, youshould save it in case any questions about the use arise later.I wrote the article so I can post it on my personal Web page or in myschools institutional repositoryProfessors often want to make their published articles available online, ei-ther on a personal Web site or in their universitys institutional repository,for personal or professional reasons. Ordinarily this would not be a problembecause the faculty member, as the author of the article, initially holds copy-right and under copyright law is granted the right to make and distributecopies. However, the current academic publishing model makes this morecomplicated.As I explained earlier, faculty members often assign rights in their worksto publishers in exchange for publication. This transfer is made throughagreements that assign some or all rights from the author to the publisher.Think of the authors rights as a bundle of sticks, with each stick representingDownloaded by [University Of Pittsburgh] at 20:03 12 November 2014 Copyright and Academia 103an individual right (i.e., copy, distribute, derivative works). The author canretain all of her sticks (rights) or break up the bundle and transfer (assign)some of her sticks (rights) to others. Author agreements determine whatrights are assigned and retained. On a positive note, the recent trend is awayfrom all or nothing author agreements under which authors are forced totransfer all rights to a publisher.How does this usually play out in the real world? Take the junior facultymember who was so excited to have his manuscript accepted for publicationthat he happily signed whatever paperwork came his way from the publisherwithout reading it. Only later when he wanted to post the article to his Website did he learn that he assigned all of his rights to his publisher. Thisscenario plays out much more often than you may think, and I have seen itmany times.My personal experience and observation reveal that a low percentageof faculty members thoroughly read and understand their author agreementsbefore signing them. This is astonishing to me since these are legally bindingcontracts between the author and the publisher.With this in mind, you should advise your faculty to review their authoragreements before signing them and also before posting their own articleson the Web. It is worth the effort to review the agreements. Trust me, gettinga cease and desist letter from your publisher can ruin an otherwise pleasantday.I credited the source so I am not violating copyright.This is another very common misconception. It usually stems from confu-sion between copyright infringement and plagiarism, two very different butseemingly related concepts. Why do people confuse the two? It is most likelybecause both deal with using someone elses work. Because the distinctionis so important, I always spend time explaining this in my copyright work-shops. How do plagiarism and copyright infringement differ? In a nutshell,one is an academic offense while the other carries legal implications. To sortthis out, a more detailed explanation may help.Plagiarism is appropriating anothers literary composition and passing itoff as your own. Acts of plagiarism can range from simply failing to properlycite a paraphrased source to the wholesale lifting of entire passages fromanothers work. Plagiarism often leads to charges of academic fraud andmisconduct within the university but rarely has legal repercussions unless itis somehow intertwined with a copyright violation.Copyright infringement, on the other hand, is a legal issue for whichthe consequences are potentially much greater. Infringement usually occurswhen you copy or distribute a copyright protected work without the copy-right holders permission. Of course, there is always the possibility that fairuse would apply, especially in an academic setting, but you should alwaysDownloaded by [University Of Pittsburgh] at 20:03 12 November 2014 104 Copyright and Academiabe careful when using copyrighted materials. Unlike plagiarism, which isbased on poor or missing citations, even if you fully cite the source you riskcommitting a copyright violation if you use it without permission.I can scan articles and make them available on my Blackboard shell.Fair use is alive and well in the digital environment, which makes this mytha little trickier because fair use may, in fact, apply here. Each semesterprofessors across the country digitally scan dog-eared, coffee-stained articlesfor their courses. These newly digitized articles may live in the professorsonline course shell or the librarys electronic reserve system, possibly formany semesters to come. There is a strong argument that scanning andplacing an article in a protected course shell or reserve system for onesemester falls within fair use. Whether you take this position depends onyour, and your institutions, level of risk tolerance. However, there is a betterand safer option.An easy way to avoid this risk is by linking directly to library licensedcontent. With the explosion of full-text databases, many articles, even olderones, are available electronically through library databases. Many databaselicensing agreements specifically provide for this type of direct linking. Onewell-known exception to this rule is the Harvard Business Review licensedthrough EBSCO. Vendors like this solution, too. I was recently on a copyrightpanel with a representative from a major database vendor who said hiscompany approves of and even encourages direct linking to its content. Ifyou doubt this, just look at the number of persistent URLs included in manyarticle databases today.At my library, we are proactive in educating faculty about linking tolibrary licensed content. We team with our universitys instructional technol-ogy office to co-teach hands-on workshops and offer one-on-one trainingsessions to help faculty integrate licensed library content into their onlinecourses. This benefits the library and protects faculty from possible copy-right infringement.It did not have a copyright symbol so it must not be protected bycopyright.At one time this was true. Until 1989 the copyright symbol, the letter cenclosed in a circle, was required to appear on every copyrighted workfor it to receive copyright protection. When the copyright law was revisedeffective March 1 of that year, that requirement was removed, and includingthe copyright symbol became permissible rather than mandatory.Why is this important to know? Because much of what you find on-line does not include a copyright notice or symbol but is still protected bycopyright. Take for instance postings I make to my blog at the library. IDownloaded by [University Of Pittsburgh] at 20:03 12 November 2014 Copyright and Academia 105do not include a copyright notice on them, but they are still protected bycopyright. Most photos and images found online are copyright protected. Re-member that just because you found it on the Internet does not necessarilymean it is free from copyright protection. In fact, I usually recommend to erron the side of caution and assume everything you find online is protected bycopyright unless it clearly is not, like most government documents or worksthat include an express Creative Commons license.Librarians are often seen as the copyright police on campus, a labelI always disown during my workshops and presentations. However, it iseasy to see why we have earned this label. We are on the front lines ofaccess to information, often telling faculty members no, you cannot dothat. Sometimes we say no so often that faculty members may no longercome to us for advice. This is not the reputation we want. We should beon the front lines of both promoting copyright compliance and educatingfaculty and administration about copyright.There is a huge void of knowledge about copyright on American cam-puses today. While librarians possess a good understanding of copyrightissues, they need to do a better job of disseminating that information out-side the library to the broader campus community. Many libraries have doneyeomans work in this area, creating copyright librarian positions or officesof scholarly communication within their libraries. Still, a much better jobremains to be done.Downloaded by [University Of Pittsburgh] at 20:03 12 November 2014