Copyright and the Academic Library: The Ambiguities of Fair Use

15 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2011

Date Written: November 12, 2008


Copyright compliance presents a number of challenges to academic libraries including providing electronic access to materials to patrons and colloquia members, serving as copyright experts to faculty, negotiating advantageous licensing agreements, and keeping up with continually changing federal and international standards. Currently, digitization and electronic dissemination of materials dominate the academic library discourse regarding copyright. These technologies were not anticipated by the original Copyright Law (2008) and have yet to be effectively included . Current laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Section 108, library and archives exemptions to the Copyright Law (Section 108), and the Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act), all of which are intended to establish guidelines for librarians and educators, simply highlight the law’s shortcomings. The exemptions and guidelines these rules create do not address all possible scenarios forcing librarians to turn to Section 107 of the Copyright Law (2008), the vague fair use balancing test. To add to the confusion several important developments occurred in copyright law in October of 2008, which will impact academic libraries’ fair use copyright policies: the passage of the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act (PRO IP), the filing of Cambridge University Press et. al. v. Patton et. al, and Google’s settlement of multiple lawsuits targeting their Google Books project.

Keywords: Copyright, Fair Use, Academic Libraries

Suggested Citation

Prilliman, Jennifer S., Copyright and the Academic Library: The Ambiguities of Fair Use (November 12, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Jennifer S. Prilliman (Contact Author)

Oklahoma City University School of Law ( email )

2501 N. Blackwelder
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
United States


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