Leveraging Fair Use in Exigent Circumstances

Leveraging Fair Use During Exigent Circumstances 

The COVID-19 public health crisis has compelled our academic community to make an emergency transition to online learning and virtual work environments.  Under these circumstances, the Library is here to assist with the analysis of fair use to support online teaching and research and believe it can be applied more broadly during this crisis.  Please note, however, that the academic community must make a good faith effort to comply with US copyright law under Title 17 of the United States Code

Best Practices:

  • Check first to see if electronic resources exist.  The library has licensed access to many resources.  Also, a significant number of vendors are generously providing free or heavily discounted access to content until this challenging time passes.  For more information on available resources, please contact yourLibrary Liaison.   

  • Link to resources where possible.  Although some scanning is permitted, linking to electronic resources should be first priority.

  • Scan the appropriate amount.  Per the third factor of the fair use doctrine, the scanned amount should align with the pedagogical purpose of the material.  Scanning an entire work is not considered an appropriate amount under the fair use doctrine. However, if a faculty member needs to teach five remaining chapters in a textbook to finish the second half of the semester, then scanning the five remaining chapters is acceptable under these circumstances.  

  • Home scanning is allowed.  Faculty can scan appropriate amounts for students on their own.     

  • If specific streaming audio or video resources are not offered in the library's existing e-resource collection, please limit the posting of non-licensed audio and video to relatively brief clips.  Alternatively, guide students to independently access content on media platforms, such as Netflix and Hulu, when possible.  Linking to the library's streaming content is encouraged.  

  • Post content in AsULearn only.  Do not post scanned materials on personal websites.  

  • Scanned content should not be shared with non-classroom participants. 

  • Check for Open Educational Resources.  OERs are free and do not require permission or a fair use analysis.  More information can be foundhere.  

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 alsoissued a statementon analyzing fair use during a public health crisis.  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 should support our use.  "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.  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.