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Fair Use at Educause Learning Initiative

At Educause's Learning Initiative conference, the tech experts at universities around the country get together to compare notes on how best to use technology to help learning. At this year's meeting on Jan. 19 in Austin, TX, members discussed with me how university copyright policies get in their way. They need fair use to be able to help faculty and students make videos for class; to help faculty understand what they can and can't put on their websites; to help librarians move productively to a digital environment. Too often they face general counsels who don't know the law, faculty who deal with copyright confusion by trying to hide material on their Blackboard sites, and librarians using inaccurate, limited or outdated guidelines with rigid "10 percent"-style rules. Educause attendees were excited to learn about the creation of codes of best practices for film, video, media literacy education, open course ware, and archiving -each of which features situations they frequently encounter. "I had not really appreciated that a community could in effect define its practice with respect to fair use and copyright," said conference director Malcolm Brown.