Fair Use and Fairness on Campus

71 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2010

See all articles by Deborah R. Gerhardt

Deborah R. Gerhardt

University of North Carolina School of Law

Madelyn F. Wessel

University of Virginia

Date Written: April 23, 2010


Copyright protection was meant to promote learning; yet copyright law too often thwarts this very purpose. Fair use is the primary means to restore the balance between the copyright regime’s enablement of proprietary control and the public good of access. It is a right that must be exercised if it is not to be lost. This article demonstrates why fair use is so critical to higher education, and seeks to clarify legal ambiguities of the law of fair use in order to better align this doctrine with critical educational goals. To illustrate the importance of the issue, we present data demonstrating the lack of equality in campus access to and use of information. For educational institutions with limited resources, fair use is of crucial importance, enabling faculty and students to access reasonable amounts of unlicensed content for scholarly and educational purposes. For individual scholars with limited access to copyright counsel or institutional subsidies for permissions and fees, fair use is also of crucial importance, enabling dissemination and publication of research. Unequal resources makes the lack of clarity and reluctance to use and defend fair use within the academy especially problematic. Fair use muscles may atrophy and flex, but the latter mode of action is far more empowering to the academic mission and far better aligned with the Founders’ understanding that copyright is intrinsically entwined with public access.

Suggested Citation

Gerhardt, Deborah R. and Wessel, Madelyn F., Fair Use and Fairness on Campus (April 23, 2010). North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 11, Spring 2010, UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1594934, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1594934

Deborah R. Gerhardt (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-7219 (Phone)
919-962-3375 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.unc.edu/faculty/directory/gerhardtdeborahr/default.aspx

Madelyn F. Wessel

University of Virginia ( email )

P.O. Box 400114
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4114
United States
434-982-2941 (Phone)
434-924-1431 (Fax)

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