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New tool for evaluating copyright use by libraries – a quick interview with Michael Brewer

The Stanford Copyright & Fair Use page just added a new tool to its Charts and Tools page, the “Section 108 Spinner.”

Minow: Tell us about the new Section 108 spinner. How does it work and what is its purpose?

Brewer: The “Section 108 Spinner” was actually the first tool we created, but because at that time the Section 108 study group had still not released their findings, we held off on releasing this tool and instead developed and released the “Digital Copyright Slider” first.  Once it seemed clear that Section 108 was not going to change any time soon, we decided to go ahead and release the Spinner. The Spinner is focused more on educating and serving the needs of librarians, library staff and archivists.  Basically it is there to help them determine when a reproduction of a copyrighted work would be covered by Section 108, the Library and Archives exemption in US Copyright Law.  We are focused on promoting the online tool, but we do have some copies of the print tool that we’re handing out at conferences or other events.  If we hear from people that having access to the print tool would be valuable for their institutions (for their staff in ILL, Special Collections, Collection Management, Public Services, etc.), we might consider making the print tool more broadly available as well.

Minow: Do you have anything else up your sleeve?

Brewer: We’ve got two more tools in development.  One is a “Fair Use Evaluator” which will guide users through the process of making fair use evaluations.  The tool collects the evidence and reasoning behind the justification provided by the user, and then provides this information back to them in a nicely formatted, time stamped PDF file for their records.  Because Section 504(c) of the US Copyright Code affords some legal protection from statutory damages for those who can show that they made a good faith evaluation of their use and had reasonable grounds for believing it was fair, we feel this feature could be especially valuable.  The second is an Educational Exemptions tool that will help instructors determine whether or not their use of a copyrighted work falls under Section 110 and 110(2) [the “face to face” teaching exemption and the TEACH Act], which allow for educational uses of copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright holder under certain circumstances. We’ve found that there is a lot of confusion out there concerning this portion of the law, so we thought an easy to use online tool might help. This tool can also collect and publish, in PDF format, the circumstances of the use provided by the user.  We hope to have these two tools out by ALA Annual in July.

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Michael Brewer is Team Leader for Undergraduate Services, University of Arizona Library and a member of the American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy Copyright Advisory Subcommittee