The Institute on Copyright in Higher Education

For many in the archives world copyright is seen as a formidable foil—a barrier and source of confusion harkening to a Kafka novelette, forever confounding and hindering efforts to increase access. Yet the principles and output of intellectual property are fundamental to the work of information professionals. In many nations, including the U.S., copyright was explicitly designed to promote scholarship and continued production of creative works, and ultimately societal betterment. Copyright concerns become even more prevalent in the digital age, considering the monumental impact networked technology has already had on information delivery, and potential for widespread open access.

In higher education, where academic libraries and archives also serve as information creators and facilitators, publishing their institution’s intellectual capital, curating digital exhibits, and managing data in institutional repositories, copyright knowledge is an integral component to daily work. On February 26, 2016, in honor of Fair Use Week, Florida State University hosted a free, one day conference, the Institute on Copyright in Higher Education, providing regional librarians, educators, administrators, and students, an opportunity to convene and discuss concerns surrounding copyright, open access, and other related intellectual property issues. Sponsored by the Panhandle Library Access Network, and funded in part via Institute of Museum and Library Services, the day’s sessions were spearheaded and organized by FSU’s Office of Digital Research and Scholarship, known for their strong scholarly communications work and open access advocacy.

The morning began with an energizing keynote from the illustrious Kyle K. Courtney, Harvard University’s Copyright Advisor and lawyer-librarian known internationally for his copyright scholarship, and as the founder of Fair Use Week. Courtney presented participants with an empowering approach to copyright, especially encouraging to those working in instruction or curriculum support, special collections and archives, and scholarly communications. Courtney reiterated his copyright rally cry several times, reminding the audience “Fair use is a right, not a defense.” Courtney compared Section 107 to a muscle those in higher education must not be afraid to use, massage, and make stronger through informed policies and approaches.

Next up was a panel discussion on “Institutional Support for Copyright” with Abby Queale, Associate General Counsel and Senior Licensing Manager at Florida State University, and Christine Fruin, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Communications at the University of Florida‘s George A. Smathers Libraries, that proposed leveraging various university resources when mediating copyright concerns. Participants then joined FSU Library representatives on a walking lunch tour of Tallahassee, exploring some of the city’s many local offerings.

The afternoon kicked off with a session featuring Fruin and Barbara J. Kaplan, Research & Scholarly Communications Librarian at Florida State University’s College of Law Research Center with an update on recent fair use rulings, followed by interactive case studies that engaged the audience in real life higher education copyright scenarios. The last panel, “Use of Images in Teaching and Publishing” examined trends and best practices for facilitating proper image discovery and use in the digital environment, including perspectives from archives, instructional design, faculty, and open access research.

Throughout the day those following along the live web stream submitted questions and comments via Twitter and an open Google doc, seeking advice and support on how to tackle trepidation surrounding intellectual property matters. Katie McCormick, Associate Dean of Libraries for Special Collections & Archives at Florida State University, led the group in a Town Hall forum to close the Institute, circling back to Courtney’s muscle metaphor in an effort to instill participants with a similar message of optimism and advocacy. Events like FSU’s Institute for Copyright in Higher Education are central to developing copyright confidence in academic libraries, and insuring information service needs are adequately and appropriately represented in potential legislative reform. Archivists cannot afford to be left out of this conversation and must play a role in copyright advocacy and patron support in the era ahead.

Lily Troia is the SNAP Steering Committee Student Blog Editor. She is completing her MLIS at Simmons College spring 2016 and works as a Project Copyright Assistant for Harvard’s Office of Scholarly Communication. 

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