If you’re particularly perceptive, or you spend a lot of time in libraries, you’ve probably noticed this little sticker on the copiers, telling you in 14 point font and in no uncertain terms that by using this machine you are in grave danger of becoming a Copyright Criminal.
You know the notice, this one:
Notice: The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The person using this equipment is responsible for any infringement.
Well, that notice only tells half the story. Yes, it is true that the Copyright Act does cover making photocopies, and libraries are required to post notices like this on what the law calls “reproduction equipment,” but the law doesn’t only protect author’s rights, it protects the rights of readers as well. So, to help explain that, we added a section on fair use, the balance to the exclusive rights part of the copyright act.
Authors only get rights because users get rights, that’s just the way the law works. Well, here at the Copyright Office at the University of Michigan, we’ve taken some steps to bring the user’s side of the balance to the fore.
Here is our copyright notice:
Notice for Unsupervised Copying Equipment – US copyright law requires that libraries post notices on unsupervised copying equipment reminding patrons of copyright law and serious penalties for infringement. The law also provides for fair use – our notice reminds our patrons of both their responsibilities and their rights.
Much better, right?
Oh, of course, this is released under a Creative Commons attribution only license, so get mixin.’