For those interested in copyright matters, here's a brief summary of the
30 meeting of the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU). Over the winter and
six working groups have been preparing draft guidelines in various areas for
copyright fair use in digital environments. May 30 was the first meeting of
full group in several months. It was an important opportunity for taking
of where we are, and for identifying some issues of consistency among the
various sets of draft guidelines.
1. The group reaffirmed that we are working towards a November finishing
The next meeting of the full group will be in early September. The small
working groups will meet as needed over the summer.
2. The group approved the final text of a letter to Congress stating that we
are making progress and also indicating when we expect to finish. In
this spring, CONFU had been depicted as disorganized and unlikely to produce
anything, and the group as a whole wanted to correct that misimpression.
3. Even though CONFU is making progress and has set November for the
completion, it is not yet clear that CONFU will produce guidelines that can
wide acceptance. There is a separate story to be told about each of the six
areas (see below). Also, not everyone agrees that arriving at guidelines
in general be a good thing. A major thread in the May 30 discussion was how
word a common preamble for all the guidelines; this discussion turned very
on whether the guidelines should be seen as maxima or minima in terms of what
users can expect to do with copyrighted materials.
4. Here's a brief (and no doubt idiosyncratic) summary of the progress of
Multimedia. Work in this area has been led by Ivan Bender and Lisa
of CCUMC, the Consortium of College and University Media Centers. Their work
began even before CONFU, so these guidelines are the most fully developed.
focus mostly on educational rather than scholarly uses. A key feature of
draft guidelines is that they include fairly strict 'portion limitations' on
much of a piece of music or a moving image (etc.) could be used under fair
Image archives. A first effort at writing guidelines was abandoned by many
participants as unproductive, and a new small group took shape around
with Pat Williams of the American Association of Museums is serving as
This group has been meeting frequently since then and has made significant
progress. Originally focused on images for art history, these guidelines now
any broader scope to include (for example) medical images. A key feature of
these draft guidelines is a parsing of the problem into two parts: (a) what
could be done under fair use in terms of digitizing and using current images
currently held, such as those in slide libraries, and (b) what might be fair
of images originally aquired in digital form.
E-Reserves. For a time no progress was made on this topic, commercial
publishers holding that there could be no legitimate digital version of a
'reserve room.' A group of representatives from a range of not-for-profit
organizations then began meeting and has developed a complete draft. The
American Association of Publishers (AAP) has indicated that this draft is
unacceptable, and (from the other side) the Association of Research Libraries
has identified some concerns that will be discussed in July. Several other
library organizations have indicated their comfort with the draft, as have
Association of American University Presses and the American Council of
Societies. Kenny Crews of the Indiana Partnership for Statewide Education is
the convenor. The group will collect comments through the end of July and
see whether to undertake any revision.
Inter-library loan and document delivery. In addition to the fair use
provisions (section 107), there are specific provisions of the copyright law
(section 108) which pertain to interlibrary loan. In this area, too, there
an extended period where little progress was made, particularly as the
discussion stayed very close to the current interlibrary loan practices. In
early May, AAP put forward a new, paradigm-breaking proposal. Later in May,
representatives of libraries met to formulate a counter proposal, also
breaking. Time will tell if anything can come of these new ideas. There is
area of agreement: that it is premature to speak of guidelines for digital
delivery of digital originals; the current discussion is about digital
of analog documents (fax, Ariel, etc.). Mary Jackson of ARL is serving as
Distance learning. Guidelines for distance learning need to take account of
section 110 of the copyright law as well as the fair use provisions. Under
direction of Lolly Gassaway (Association of American Universities), this
divided distance learning into two kinds. A draft has been completed
fair use in 'traditional distance learning,' using, for example, satellite
transmission or statewide cable networks. Barely broached is the question of
what guidelines might be appropriate for the next generation of distance
learning, using computer networks and individual student workstations for
digital delivery and receipt of materials.
Software use in libraries. There was an early agreement in this area not to
write guidelines but rather only to write scenarios. There is a
draft which has been the work of Mark Traphagen (Software Publishers Assoc.)
Sally Wiant (Special Libraries Assoc.).
Music materials. A group met in April to consider whether there should be
guidelines for the fair use of music materials in degital environments. They
decided that current guidelines (formulated in the 1970s) were sufficient.