ALA Group Issues Report on Fair Use for Videos in Libraries

The Fair Use and Video Project has posted online its document titled “Community Practices in the Fair Use of Video in Libraries.”  This project began as an attempt by the Video Roundtable (VRT), a group within the American Library Association (ALA), to establish a recommended body of practice in the fair use of video for educational purposes. A team of six librarians, with advice and guidance from ALA’s Office of Information Technology Policy, coordinated the process of gathering input from the media librarian community and created the final document. Over the course of the project, our aims shifted from suggesting best practices, which was leading us into a thicket of conflicting copyright interpretations, to documenting community practices, which allowed us to explore how librarians routinely and responsibly fulfill their mission to preserve and provide access to our cultural record.  The team conducted in-person interviews at national conferences and hosted a series of focus groups at locations across the country: Boston, Seattle, Evanston, Washington, D.C. and Richmond.  About eighty library staff members with varying responsibilities for buying, processing, and/or supporting the educational use of video were included in our surveys.

The report concludes that librarians are deeply respectful of fair use as a means to ensure the kind of access to valuable content that is appropriate to the classroom, library, and learning space of today’s university. Such is the pace of change in higher education that new technological breakthroughs, court cases, and revisions to the law will likely change the landscape, over and over again, for use of library content of every conceivable format. However, fair use is clearly the cornerstone of a philosophy of service based on the principle of unfettered access to the materials of research and scholarship. This philosophy will endure as long as libraries maintain a strong commitment to the real intention of the copyright law, to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts.” Without fair use, libraries would most assuredly have to sharply curtail their efforts to deliver the essential materials of scholarship in the form and manner appropriate for real academic inquiry.

The document has a place for comments in the box at the top right of the page.


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