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American University’s Washington College of Law, along with other academic contributors, has launched the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources (the Code). This forty-plus page report, the goal of which is to assist professors, teachers, librarians, and other educators in evaluating when and how they can incorporate third party copyright materials into Open Educational Resources (OER), is the culmination of workshops, interviews, and webinars conducted over a two year period from 2019 – 2020.

Within education, uncertainty and misunderstanding of copyright and fair use can lead to less than optimal choices of educational “inserts”, which includes a full range of resources and material from third-party sources that educators may wish to incorporate into OER. The Code is meant to provide guidance within this environment, not with strict lists of specific guidelines for fair use as it relates to OED inserts, e.g., specific percentages or word counts, but rather as an “analytical framework” for its users. When educators use this framework, they may be less constrained from strictly using materials from commercial publishers, in turn creating more impactful resources, in a variety of formats, for their students.

Announcement: Launch of the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources

Read the Code


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The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) was passed by Congress on December 21, 2020 and signed into law on December 27, 2020 as a part of a much bigger omnibus spending bill.

What Is It?

The CASE Act creates a “Copyright Claims Board” (the Board) within the U.S. Copyright Office which can hand out awards for copyright infringement for those seeking damages of $30,000 or less.  Of consternation to its critics, decisions by the Board are binding unless a party proactively opts-out of the claims process. Opt-ing out isn’t a one time thing, either. A person must do this every time a claim is filed against them. While the opt out system has not yet been put in place (the Copyright Office has until the end of 2021 to create it), once in place, if you receive a notice of infringement and do nothing, the assumption will be made that you have “opted-in” to the process. The Board’s decision will be binding and you will have limited recourse to appeal or overturn it. On the other hand, claims of infringement handled in court have multiple levels of appeal. Critics of the CASE Act fear that the law does not protect individuals from copyright trolls and “sophisticated actors”, such as large companies, especially if a person does not understand the opt-out process. Large copyright owners may also target those using materials under fair use.

You can find out more about the history of the CASE Act here.

Additional Resources

US copyright law comes under scrutiny as new legislation makes its way before Congress

The CASE Act Is Just the Beginning of the Next Copyright Battle

Submitted public comments regarding regulations implementing to establish the new Copyright Claims Board (CCB) as a part of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act