Library News, September-October 2000

Schwerdtfeger Library, Space Science and Engineering Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Copyright Issues: Do You Copy Right?

There are numerous copyright issues/questions that come up with regularity. Some of them are: is my copying considered fair use and is there a guide, why does the Library always stamp its copies with a "notice of copyright," why won’t the Library copy an entire issue of a journal for me, how do you figure out whether something is public domain, how freely can I copy material from the Internet, how am I, as a researcher affected by intellectual property issues, is there a good resource for starting an electronic journal, can I copyright my dissertation? Other questions can perhaps be addressed in a future column. Remember, too, that I present this information to you for informational purposes; it is not meant to serve as legal advice. For legal advice contact the Office of Administrative Legal Services, 263-7400.

Full text of the Copyright Law of the United States of America
and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code


What Is Fair Use? And Is My Intended Use Fair?

Title 17, United States Code, section 107 addresses the idea of fair use and what constitutes fair use. Generally, using a copyrighted work for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research is not an infringement of copyright. There are four factors to be considered when determining whether a use is fair: 1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is for commercial or nonprofit educational purposes; 2) the nature of the copyrighted work; 3) the amount copied in relation to the whole; 4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. "Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians" is discussed more fully in Circular 21 by the United States Copyright Office.

Other good discussions of fair use can be found at:


Why Won’t the Library Copy an Entire Issue of a Journal for Me?

Libraries have been granted special privileges where copyright is concerned but copying a journal in its entirety would violate those privileges. Title 17, United States Code, section 108 offers guidelines for "reproduction by libraries and archives." The guidelines state that it is not an infringement of copyright for a library (or one of its employees) to copy, for example, an article from a journal if: 1) the copying is made without any commercial advantage; 2) if the collections of the library are open to the public and 3) if the copy produced includes a notice of copyright. Further, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) specifically states that if the copyright notice of the holder is not on the front page of the article (for example, Copyright 2000 American Meteorological Society) then the library must include a statement to that effect – this is why every article that you get from us is stamped with a notice of copyright.

In addition, libraries can provide copies of articles via interlibrary loan. This activity falls within the purview of fair use. If, however, you want a copy of an article very quickly and we purchase it for you from a document delivery service, we pay for the copy but we also pay royalties to the copyright holder via the service.


When Works Pass into the Public Domain

We’ve all encountered situations when we’ve wondered whether the work we want to copy has passed into the public domain. Laura Gassaway, University of North Carolina, has created this chart to help determine whether a work is public domain based on its date of publication.

Crash Course in Copyright

A very thorough and easily read course on copyright. The syllabus includes: discussion of fair use, how to figure out who owns what, creating multimedia, copyright management, licensing resources, and much more.

Using Materials from the Internet: What are the Rules?
" Copyright law governs the use of materials you might find on the internet, just as it governs the use of books, film or music in the analog world...."


New Policy at the American Physical Society (APS)

One of the ticklish copyright issues in recent times has concerned the ability of authors to provide reprints of their articles under "fair use" considerations. Recent court cases have addressed this issue. A major scientific publisher, the American Physical Society (publisher of Physical Reviews, Physical Review Letters and Reviews of Modern Physics) just released a changed copyright policy which addresses this issue.  The old version can be seen, for comparison, at [Excerpts from NSF Library Newsletter, July 2000]

The following statement by Martin Blume (July 2000) of the APS, summarizes the rationale for the changes:

For comparison:


Are You Thinking About Starting Your Own Electronic Journal?

These "start up materials" offered by the University of Texas System include: Electronic Publication Agreement, a General Accuracy/Liability Disclaimer, several sample Copyright Notices, a Copyright Policy Statement and a Policy for Handling Complaints of Infringement, Tortious Conduct (Defamation), or other Illegal Material.


Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition or SPARC

As creators of intellectual property, scientists, researchers, academics should be aware of two important issues: 1) that price hikes by commercial publishers will continue and, 2) that commercial publishers will likely continue to increase copyright controls. The University Library Committee, in its 1999 report to the Faculty Senate says that "increased publication costs result from a number of factors: (1) increasing academic productivity (so there are ever more publications for libraries to buy); (2) the general practice of commercial publishers not levying page charges on authors as many academic societies do (which means that the full cost of journal production is not shared between authors and libraries but is fully shouldered by subscribers and libraries); and (3) the increasingly monopoly-like behavior of commercial publishers, particularly in the sciences, as they increase their market share in particular disciplines by acquiring their competitors.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) was formed by the Association of Research Libraries to deal with some of these issues. Its members include research institutions, libraries and other organizations. SPARC advocates that scientific academic societies publish their own electronic journals while offering suggestions to libraries for use of electronic resources and offering ways in which authors can assert their rights to use their own material. To that end, SPARC has recently formed the following alliances: 1) SPARC and IEEE are collaborating to produce "Sensors" ; 2) the Geological Society of American and its partners are planning a new collection of electronic journals ; 3) SPARC is partnering with "Geometry and Topology." The Coalition is in its infancy but very active.

A Question of Access: SPARC, BioOne, and Society-Driven Electronic Publishing
By Richard K. Johnson, SPARC Enterprise Director
D-Lib Magazine, v.6, no.5, May 2000


Victory for Academic Freedom or Who was Henry Barschall and Why Should I Care?

Henry Barschall was a professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While he is known for his contributions to nuclear physics, he is also known in the library and academic communities for undertaking a meticulous study (1986, 1988) of comparison of costs per 1000 characters of physics journals. He concluded that "the publishers whose journals have low average costs per character or low ratios of cost to impact are scientific societies or associations, while the publishers whose journals have high costs per character or high ratios of cost to impact are commercial firms." The results of the study gained worldwide attention because the American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society decided to use them to promote their journals.

Gordon and Breach, a major publisher, whose scores were consistently low, decided to sue the AIP and APS in U.S., German, Swiss and French courts. They claimed that the Barschall studies were flawed and biased. This summer (July 2000) the French Court of Appeals in Paris rejected a suit filed against the AIP and APS by Gordon & Breach. This brings to an end 13 years of litigation – Gordon & Breach has lost all suits.

Barschall’s analyses have provided groundwork for librarian’s who use cost/use studies as one factor to help determine whether a particular journal should be retained or discontinued – the last decade has shown skyrocketing subscription prices, so these kinds of techniques have become invaluable. More importantly, perhaps, Barschall’s comparative analyses in published form could not be suppressed by Gordon & Breach, hence the phrase, "Victory for Academic Freedom."

More on Barschall study:


Copyright Law and Graduate Research: New Media, New Rights and Your New Dissertation
by Kenneth Crews

"This manual is intended to help graduate students and advisors understand legal rights and duties at an early stage, before the legal issues can become serious and frustrating. This manual should help researchers identify when they need copyright clearances and show how to obtain them. It should also help graduate students protect their own copyrights. Although this guide focuses on doctoral dissertations, its principles extend as well to master's theses and many other works. Much of this work also examines the fundamentals of copyright; the information presented here ought to be useful for seasoned researchers needing a succinct overview or refresher as they prepare new works from journal articles to multimedia projects.

Users of this manual will discover that copyright is never simple; no one has quick and streamlined answers. Indeed, this overview hardly touches the depth of copyright law-it is only an introduction to some of the most common situations. It cannot serve as legal advice. If, after studying this text, your circumstances raise copyright issues that you are not prepared to address alone, talk with your faculty advisor and consult an attorney." [Preface]

Kenneth Crews is a recognized authority on copyright law and directs the Copyright Management Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.


Other Links

While there are many useful sites on copyright and related issues, I’ve found the following to be very useful:

Schwerdtfeger Library Copyright Links
Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (UW-Madison Graduate School)
Ownership of Intellectual Property (UW System Financial and Administrative Policies)
    Policies on computer software ownership, patents, copyrightable instruction materials ownership.
Miscellaneous Postings/Recommended Copyright Links (Ken Frazier, Director GLS)
    Ken Frazier’s site focuses on copyright issues in higher education.
American Library Association
    Copyright basics, fair use, copyright and the library, learning, research and the Internet.
Association of Research Libraries
    Legislation, distance education, international activities, etc.
Database Data 101: A Basic Guide to Database Legislation in the 106th Congress

Jean Phillips
September 2000