Best practices for fair use in libraries

Pat Aufderheide sez,

When is it OK for me to put copyrighted material on e-reserves for students?

I've got an ancient VHS and the company that made it is defunct. Can I copy it to DVD for a prof's class?

A student's thesis analyzes advertisements and includes some of them. Can I put the thesis in our digital institutional repository?

Academic and research librarians can employ their fair use rights to make such decisions, and now they have a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use to help them decide what's appropriate. Librarians developed this code under the aegis of the Association of Research Libraries and with funding from the Mellon Foundation in sessions over the course of two years, in locations around the country. Legal scholar Peter Jaszi (Washington College of Law, American University) and communication scholar Patricia Aufderheide, who have facilitated several codes of best practices in fair use, also participated.

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (Thanks, Pat!)


  1. Librarian joke here and unfortunately I do believe this actually happened:
    Student goes to the Info desk and sez, “I’m looking for this book the Prof said we should read. It’s called ‘Oranges and Peaches'”.
    Info desk: “Do you know the author?”
    Student: “Uh, yeah, lessee….someone called Darwin?”

    {sound it out} :-/

  2. Thank you for posting the link to these ‘best practices’ guidelines. They are extremely useful!

  3. Short answer.  all you base belong to us.  seriously post it, use some random proxy thing if you are worried.

  4. It’s good that this is out there, but I will say that in my experience in academia librarians (and professors and everyone else) do have a sense of what’s legally fair use, but that in practice it’s essentially “anything goes” if it’s even vaguely related to research or coursework.

  5. Thanks for posting this. I like that I found this through BB rather than through my library or my college dean.

  6. Thanks for posting this. I teach classes online and the more online resources I can provide my students the better.

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