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Over at the Copyright Advisory Network is a great tool called the Fair Use Evaluator and it will be a very good tool to bookmark for when you have questions regarding your use of an item protected by copyright.
The American Library Association Washington Office has taken on the responsibility of keeping librarians and others informed regarding federal policy that influences all of us who deal with information on a daily basis. The Office for Information Technology Policy has specialized in copyright law and they not only have developed the Copyright Advisory Network, but they have also developed a set of very helpful resources for those who need to know about copyright.
The Fair Use Evaluator is a tool that allows us to enter information about how we are using a work protected by copyright and it tells us on a visual scale how “fair” our use is and how close it is to infringement. In the course of entering all our information, we also create documentation of our decision process so that we can save it in our files. That way if our process is ever questioned we have the document to show how we made good faith effort to determine that our use could be made without asking permission of the copyright holder, and that it is a fair use. Fair use is determined by section 107 of the copyright law,which describes the fair use exception to copyright. While there is no such thing as an absolute safe haven against getting sued for infringement, it is always appropriate to systematically evaluate your use of any item protected by copyright and properly document your effort when you firmly believe that your use is a fair use.
TheFair Use Evaluator landing page also has several very good links for learning more about copyright and fair use. It’s a good place to get a distilled version of information so that you have a good ground in the essentials.
One especially great thing about this tool is that you can copy it and use it in your institution’s web site! If you contact the Washington Office of ALA, they will give you all the files and details to make it function. Check the link called: Creative Commons/Modify this Tool for Use at your own Institution and all the details are there. Take some time to try out the Fair Use Evaluator tool for yourself!
Blog post created by Lorre Smith