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Introducing the first episode of What Sarah Said, my new videocast/podcast/video-thingie where I answer your questions about libraries, technology, privacy, intellectual freedom, etc.  One episode, one question (or multi-part related questions).

Send your own questions to me at librarianinblack@gmail.com, @TheLiB, or +Sarah Houghton.

Text Transcription (courtesy of Ms. Andromeda)

Hi, welcome to Episode 1 of What Sarah Said, a brand-new podcast with me, Sarah Houghton, author of Librarian in Black, and a librarian in…black. This is a podcast where I will answer questions from my readers and viewers and do my best to help out.

And today’s first question comes from Suzanne, and she says: OK. So what exactly do the copyright laws say about making one coy of a magazine article for personal use, burning a CD for personal use — I know you’re not supposed to but every laptop does this — so is it really truly illegal, and finally, showing a DVD at a school as a fundraiser.

Alright, so three possible parts, three separate questions, and the answer to all three is, yes, that is a violation of copyright. So let’s take these one by one.

So, first off. Making a copy of a magazine article for personal use. If you’re not making a copy of a subscription that you already paid for yourself — for instance, if you’re making a copy of a subscription that your local library paid for, or a friend paid for, that’s a violation of copyright, because you’re making an unauthorized copy of an entire work, and in this case the work is the article.

The second question, burning a CD for personal use. You’re entitled to make a backup copy of CDs that you’ve already purchased. So, in case they get damaged or something, you can make a backup copy. Kind of an archival copy, if you will. Can’t share that copy, but you can make that copy, and keep it in case the first one gets damaged. But if you’re making a burned CD, let’s say, again, from a library copy, or a friend’s copy, that is a violation of copyright.

And then lastly, showing a DVD at a school as a fundraiser. The movie companies require that you pay them a screening fee, a broadcast fee, a display fee, they call it different things, in order to make some money back on that movie. So even if you’re not showing it at the movie theater, if you’re just showing it to a room of 25-year-olds, doesn’t matter. They still require you to pay that fee in order to, to screen that film that they paid to make. And so showing it at the school as a fundraiser — or even not — even if there’s no money involved at all and you’re just showing it for free, that is still a violation of copyright, because you haven’t paid the rightsholders what they legally require you to pay in order to use their product.

So the short answer is, basically, none of those things is OK, and the lesson is that just because it’s easy to do, technically, doesn’t mean that it’s not a violation of the law. Doesn’t mean that it’s not a violation of copyright. So we all have to be very careful in both what we do as library professionals but also what we tell other people they can and can’t do. We need to be comfortable with the law, we need to understand what’s admissible and what isn’t. Otherwise we’re going to give people bad advice, and as information professionals, we don’t like that. So thanks for your question Suzanne, and congratulations on being our inaugural question for the first podcast, and I hope I’ll see everyone else for episode 2.

“What Sarah Said: Episode 1 – Copyright Trifecta”

  1. Andromeda Says:

    For those of us who prefer our information in text form and/or searchable:

    Hi, welcome to Episode 1 of What Sarah Said, a brand-new podcast with me, Sarah Houghton, author of Librarian in Black, and a librarian in…black. This is a podcast where I will answer questions from my readers and viewers and do my best to help out.

    And today’s first question comes from Suzanne, and she says: OK. So what exactly do the copyright laws say about making one coy of a magazine article for personal use, burning a CD for personal use — I know you’re not supposed to but every laptop does this — so is it really truly illegal, and finally, showing a DVD at a school as a fundraiser.

    Alright, so three possible parts, three separate questions, and the answer to all three is, yes, that is a violation of copyright. So let’s take these one by one.

    So, first off. Making a copy of a magazine article for personal use. If you’re not making a copy of a subscription that you already paid for yourself — for instance, if you’re making a copy of a subscription that your local library paid for, or a friend paid for, that’s a violation of copyright, because you’re making an unauthorized copy of an entire work, and in this case the work is the article.

    The second question, burning a CD for personal use. You’re entitled to make a backup copy of CDs that you’ve already purchased. So, in case they get damaged or something, you can make a backup copy. Kind of an archival copy, if you will. Can’t share that copy, but you can make that copy, and keep it in case the first one gets damaged. But if you’re making a burned CD, let’s say, again, from a library copy, or a friend’s copy, that is a violation of copyright.

    And then lastly, showing a DVD at a school as a fundraiser. The movie companies require that you pay them a screening fee, a broadcast fee, a display fee, they call it different things, in order to make some money back on that movie. So even if you’re not showing it at the movie theater, if you’re just showing it to a room of 25-year-olds, doesn’t matter. They still require you to pay that fee in order to, to screen that film that they paid to make. And so showing it at the school as a fundraiser — or even not — even if there’s no money involved at all and you’re just showing it for free, that is still a violation of copyright, because you haven’t paid the rightsholders what they legally require you to pay in order to use their product.

    So the short answer is, basically, none of those things is OK, and the lesson is that just because it’s easy to do, technically, doesn’t mean that it’s not a violation of the law. Doesn’t mean that it’s not a violation of copyright. So we all have to be very careful in both what we do as library professionals but also what we tell other people they can and can’t do. We need to be comfortable with the law, we need to understand what’s admissible and what isn’t. Otherwise we’re going to give people bad advice, and as information professionals, we don’t like that. So thanks for your question Suzanne, and congratulations on being our inaugural question for the first podcast, and I hope I’ll see everyone else for episode 2.

  2. Andromeda Says:

    Also, nice caffeine necklace you’ve got there, and I’d like to take the opportunity to give a shout-out to your CC BY-NC-SA license, which allowed me to publicly transcribe that without worrying you’d be all up in my face about a derivative work.

  3. C.M. Says:

    You mentioned that it’s not okay to show a film at a school even if there is no money involved. I thought that Fair Use protected you as long as the film was being shown in an educational setting. For example, I thought it was okay if you were showing a film at a school and the film was going to be followed by an educational discussion. What is not okay is to show the film at a school just for fun, with no educational purpose to it. Could you clear this up for me? Thanks!

  4. Sarah Says:

    @Andromeda – Thanks for the transcription! I’ve actually copied the text up into the main blog post (with credit, of course). I promise to transcribe all future episodes myself. Thank you for the idea, and for getting the ball rolling!

  5. Sarah Says:

    @C.M. – You are correct. Fair use is an exception to pretty much everything I just said. If you’re showing a film to be followed by analysis, critique, etc. then it is okay. But, let’s say you just show the movie “Elf” because it’s the holidays. That’s no good. Thanks for the clarification/question!

  6. Brad Matthies Says:

    I’m fairly certain you can copy a single article or book chapter from a printed book for personal use. It’s basically a fair use argument.

    See the government’s own brochure:

    http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ21.pdf

    Brad

  7. Sarah Says:

    @Brad – The brochure you link to (which is a good resource for educators to know about – thanks!) is talking specifically about exemptions for educational, classroom, and library use. Maybe I am misunderstanding what Suzanne and you mean by “personal” use, but I’m thinking something along the lines of…”I don’t want to pay for a subscription to Architectural Digest, so I’ll just make copies of the articles I want out of the library’s copy.” Or “Ooh, this is a great article in the Sudan. I’m going to make a copy out of my magazine and give that copy to my friend Brittany.” I still read that as not falling under fair use.

  8. Brad Matthies Says:

    Sarah,

    By personal use does she mean for a research paper? If so she can make a fair use argument. If not, she probably still can make the argument….

    http://books.google.com/books?id=7xTvCPlBXDQC&lpg=PT343&ots=IryKaPDcmo&dq=copy%20single%20article%20personal%20use%20student%20copyright&pg=PT343#v=onepage&q=copy%20single%20article%20personal%20use%20student%20copyright&f=false

    Speaking of good resources:

    http://librarycopyright.net/fairuse/

    I used a single article from a journal as my test. Intended use is for a hypothetical research paper. I even weighed amount in the negative (i.e. “opposing fair use”) and still came out safe.

    Ultimately Suzanne needs to consider the “four factors” within the context of her intended use. As I tell students and faculty: Each fair use evaluation is like a snowflake.

    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

    ;-)

    I should also say that this is just my opinion and is not to be interpreted as legal advice.

  9. Mixed Messages and Copyright: A Reflection « The Knowledge Function Says:

    [...] at the Librarian In Black blog today, Sarah Houghton posted a video in which she answered three questions about copyright violation. I’m not sure when I learned that creating a mixtape was technically illegal, but I remember [...]

  10. Megan Says:

    About playing movies in your school – here is a website that we used at the library I used to work at to determine if we could show a particular movie or not:

    http://www.movlic.com/

    Also, for those that work in libraries – what do you tell patrons when they ask if they can make a photocopy of a magazine article?

  11. Suzanne Says:

    Hi, Suzanne chiming in here.

    Yes, I was speaking of “personal copies” as ”I don’t want to pay for a subscription to Architectural Digest, so I’ll just make copies of the articles I want out of the library’s copy.” BUT – a patron brought up this argument and I don’t know hwo to dispute it – since the subscriptions are paid for with our tax money, do we not all “own” the subscription? Is it any different than if me and three of my artsy roommates chipped in for a subscription, and we all “co-owned” it?

    Thanks to everyone who’s posting these links, this is exactly what I wanted.

  12. Sarah Says:

    Hi Suzanne! Thanks for stopping by! We co-own the subscription only in that we can pass the original around, one person at a time. But multiple copying would be wrong if it was roommates or if it was library patrons. Just because you co-own something doesn’t mean you can make copies of it for every co-owner. :)

    Megan – I don’t think I’ve ever been asked by a patron if he or she could make a magazine article copy. If I was asked, I would probably say “Err, it’s technically a violation of copyright but I’m going to go look over here for a while so if a copy was made without my knowledge the world wouldn’t end.” Now, is that a good, legal response? No, probably not. But it’s realistic…and I’m trying to bring a little more reality into my library.

  13. Katie Fortney Says:

    I’m late the to the party, but there are a lot of instances in which copying a single article – whether or not you’re an educator – could be fair use. [Disclaimer: yes, I'm a librarian-lawyer, no this is not legal advice.] There’s a big difference between copying one article you’re interested in and systematically copying numerous articles from the same publication. There’s also a difference between making one copy of something on the one hand and posting a copy on the internet on the other.
    Both of those come into play when considering the fourth fair use factor, effect on the market. If you’ve got personal, noncommercial use and minimal market effect weighing on one side, and creative material (depending on the magazine) on the one side, it could go either way. That you’re copying a whole article isn’t necessarily fatal – courts also look at whether the amount is what’s necessary to your purpose. If it’s mostly a factual article, it’s even a stronger fair use argument.
    When it’s fair use, it’s not infringement. It’s not “infringement, but a fair use one.”
    Another good thing to know for educators – although I suspect most of them do already – is the specific exemption for “public performance” (i.e. playing a movie to a room full of people) in the case of classroom use in section 110(1). No help for a fundraiser, but there you go. Kenneth Crews recently had an interesting series of blog posts on when a performance becomes “public.” http://copyright.columbia.edu/copyright/2011/05/02/copyright-qa-movies-in-the-dormitory/

    Probably more detail than is ideal for a quick 1/3 of a “What Sarah Said,” but in case anyone gets here later via The Googles and finds it helpful…

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