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VHS, Old Photos and New Masters: Fair Use at work in University Libraries

Fritz-Metcalf Photo Collection, University of California BerkeleyLibrarians are putting the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries to work--and setting easy-to-follow examples.

That historic collection of photographs could galvanize scholarship--if people could see them. That was what UC Berkeley’s University Librarian Tom Leonard thought about one of the university's collections. He used the librarians' Code to guide  the online exhibit that enables new learning.

Your university doesn't even have VCRs any more, but the professors still have VHS tapes with valuable materials on them--and no DVD version is commercially available. What to do? At the University of Colorado-Boulder, librarians have put the librarians' Code  to use, to solve that problem. Now, VHS collections that would have moldered in a back room or a backpack have new life--and professors have access to their teaching materials.

An art history graduate student's thesis is full of copyrighted images, discussed and analyzed throughout. Your university's institutional repository wants to keep them in the digital file--without them, the thesis would make no sense. You would want to benefit from University of California, Santa Barbara Prof. Laurie Monahan's insights, as part of the task force that developed an open-access policy in the University of California system. Now, theses can be entered into institutional repositories there with uncleared, third-party copyrighted material, if the uses accord with the Code.

These and other stories are explored in helpful detail on the Association of Research Libraries' Policy Notes blog.