Fair Use Challenges in Academic and Research Libraries


This report summarizes research into the current application of fair use to meet the missions of U.S. academic and research libraries. Sixty-five librarians were interviewed confidentially by telephone for around one hour each. They were asked about their employment of fair use in five key areas of practice: support for teaching and learning, support for scholarship, preservation, exhibition and public outreach, and serving disabled communities. Interviewees reported a strong commitment to obeying copyright law; rarely concerned about their own liability, librarians primarily felt responsible for ensuring their institutions were in compliance with the law. Practice varied considerably, from a rigid permissions culture to ample employment of fair use.

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