Pennsylvania State University
Copyright & Information Policy
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Our group of library copyright specialists released a Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research (March 13, 2020). At the outset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it became clear that the educational community was facing an unprecedented challenge in transitioning from face-to-face to remote instruction, often with little or no notice or opportunity to adapt teaching materials. Because of the novelty of this crisis, virtually no guidance was available to navigate the situation, leaving many to ignore copyright altogether or react in overly cautious ways. We published the statement just as many campuses were announcing closures and transitions. The statement was widely circulated and favorably cited by colleagues as they developed their own responses, and formed the basis of a number of other resources that our group developed. During this process, three points became clear: First, amongst practitioners of educational copyright, there was strong consensus that fair use (17 USC §107) with its flexibility, sensitivity to facts, new technologies and circumstances, and doctrinal consideration of public purposes, was well-suited for accommodating the copyright concerns generated by the pandemic. Second, some areas of copyright law, in particular the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions (17 USC § 1201), are not well-adapted to changing circumstances. Third, our rapid response staked policy territory, enabled the work to be built on by us and by others, and establishes a model for future action. During this session we will discuss the consensus-building towards and writing of the statement, the development of related resources, and the fair use analysis that underpins the ability of educators to engage in emergency remote teaching.