Desktop version

Home arrow Law

  • Increase font
  • Decrease font


<<   CONTENTS   >>

Are there any copyright rules about corporate employee donations of personal or professional association journals to the private corporate library?

Generally anyone who has lawfully acquired a copy of a copyrighted work may dispose of that copy even by donating it to a corporate library. The real question is whether the library can then use the journal just as it does a purchased subscription. If the publisher offers only one subscription rate for that journal, then there should be no problem. But if the publisher has a separate institutional subscription rate for the journal, then the library really should not use that donated subscription except to replace missing issues for binding. It should subscribe at the institutional rate that permits multiple readers, copying, and so forth.

If a university is drafting a copyright policy, is it better to create it as a part of the patent policy or as a separate policy?

Although copyrights and patents are both types of intellectual property, they are very different from each other. The statutes are separate (Title 17 U.S. Code for copyright and Title 35 for patents), and the qualifications for protection, duration of protection, rights afforded, and remedies are different for each. In academia, every faculty member is affected by copyright: All faculty use copyrighted works for teaching, and in institutions that expect research and scholarship, faculty produces copyrighted scholarly works. By contrast, only a few faculty members are likely to produce patentable works or be in a position to infringe a patent, and typically those faculty members are in science, medicine, engineering, or computer science.

Universities generally are much more interested in patents than they are in copyrighted works since patent royalties produce considerable income for the institution. Usually, there is a royalty sharing arrangement between the university and the faculty inventor. On the other hand, most institutions permit faculty authors to own the copyright in their works. Few copyrighted scholarly works produce much income, as opposed to patented inventions.

The concern for including both copyright and patent in one policy is that copyright is likely to take a backseat to patent, and the default position could become university ownership for copyrights as it is for patents. Because of the money at stake with a patent, universities will consider them more important, despite the fact that many fewer faculty members produce patentable inventions than produce copyrighted works. So, a separate policy is preferable.

What is the personal liability for a librarian who writes copyright guidelines for faculty when faculty members either do not understand the guidelines and infringe or simply do not comply with them?

Under section 108(f)(2) of the Copyright Act, it is the direct infringer and the institution that would be liable for infringing copyright in violation of the policy or guidelines, not a librarian who drafts guidelines for the institution. The librarian who drafts the guidelines is doing so at the request of a college or university official as a part of his or her job duties. Librarians are not responsible for ensuring that every faculty member and student follow the policy or the law down to the nth degree. While an unhappy copyright owner could initially name the librarian in a suit against the institution, as well as the faculty member, it is likely that the suit would be dropped against the librarian, who was not responsible for the infringing conduct.

A campus is drafting a copyright policy and has asked the librarian who should be on the committee to produce the policy.

When drafting a policy, it makes sense to include faculty members, librarians, staff, and even students on the committee so that all viewpoints are represented. A member of the legal counsel staff also should be on the committee. While faculty, librarians, and even students are bound by the policy, in order to protect itself and its faculty, staff, and students, an institution is responsible for seeing that its policies are followed. Representatives of each group should be responsible for "selling" the policy to their groups. The policy should be posted on a campus website in draft form so that comments can be gathered, and the draft altered as necessary. Then the final policy should be posted.

 
<<   CONTENTS   >>

Related topics