Copyright Guidance & COVID-19

By Agnes Gambill

March 15, 2020

At the time of writing, universities and schools have closed in 49 countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Library consortia and individual libraries across the world are working around the clock to ensure that library services and resources are not disrupted.  Many classes have moved online, as recommended by the World Health Organization, government officials, and various health agencies.  Fortunately, many vendors are generously providing free/discounted access to content until this challenging time passes.  For more information on available resources, please contact your Library Liaison.    

The International Coalition of Library Consortia issued this statement, urging publishers to lift restrictions on photocopying and interlibrary loan limits, waive user limits to licensed digital content, make research and data about COVID-19 available through Open Access, and enable flexible fair use analyses. 

Library Copyright Specialists in the United States have also issued a statement on analyzing fair use during a public health crisis.  The key takeaway: "It is evident that making materials available and accessible to students in this time of crisis will almost always be a fair use.  As long as we are being thoughtful in our analysis and limiting our activities to the specific needs of our patrons during this time of crisis, copyright law supports our uses.  The fair use doctrine accommodates the flexibility required by our shared public health crisis, enabling society to function and progress while protecting human life and safety."   

Appalachian State University has issued copyright guidance for remote/online teaching and research here.  Library Liaisons who have participated in the Appalachian Copyright Academy have suitable copyright knowledge to address your questions for using copyrighted content in times of crisis, such as global health pandemics.  Contact the Scholarly Communications Office for further information or assistance.