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Some rights and responsibilities of a research library in the area of copyright.

"The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labour of authors, but to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts. To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work. This result is neither unfair nor unfortunate. It is the means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art." — Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Copyright law must balance the intellectual property rights of authors, publishers and copyright owners with society's need for the free exchange of ideas. Taken together, fair use and other public rights to utilize copyrighted works constitute indispensable legal doctrines for promoting the dissemination of knowledge, while ensuring authors, publishers and copyright owners protection of their creative works and economic investments. The preservation and continuation of these balanced rights in an electronic environment are essential to the free flow of information and to the development of an information infrastructure that serves the public interest.

Canada and the U.S. have adopted very different approaches to intellectual property and copyright issues. For example, the Canadian Copyright Act does not contain the special considerations for library and educational use found in the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, nor does it place federal or provincial government works in the public domain.

Librarians and educators have every reason to encourage full and good-faith copyright compliance. Technological advancement has made copyright infringement easier to accomplish, but no less illegal. Authors, publishers, copyright owners, and librarians are integral parts of the system of scholarly communication and publishers, authors, and copyright owners are the natural partners of education and research. With few exceptions, the protections and provisions of the copyright statute are as relevant and applicable to an electronic environment as they are to a print and broadcast environment.

Statement of Principles

Principle 1: Copyright exists for the public good.

The fundamental purpose of copyright is to serve the public interest by encouraging the advancement of knowledge through a system of exclusive but limited rights for authors and copyright owners. Fair use and other public rights to utilize copyrighted works, specifically and intentionally included in the law, provide the essential balance between the rights of authors, publishers and copyright owners, and society's interest in the free exchange of ideas.

Principle 2: Fair use, the library, and other relevant public rights must be preserved in the development of the emerging information infrastructure.

Fair use and other relevant provisions are the essential means by which teachers teach, students learn, and researchers advance knowledge. Any provisions should apply to all formats and are essential to modern library and information services.

Principle 3: As trustees of the rapidly growing record of human knowledge, libraries and archives must have full use of technology in order to preserve our heritage of scholarship and research.

Digital works of enduring value need to be preserved just as printed works have long been preserved by research libraries. Archival responsibilities have traditionally been undertaken by libraries because publishers and database producers have generally preserved particular knowledge only as long as it has economic value in the marketplace. As with other formats, the preservation of electronic information will be the responsibility of libraries and they will continue to perform this important societal role. The policy framework of the emerging information infrastructure must provide for the archiving of electronic materials by research libraries to maintain permanent collections and environments for public access. Accomplishing this goal will require strengthening the library provisions of the copyright law to allow preservation activities which use electronic or other appropriate technologies as they emerge.

Principle 4: Licensing agreements should not be allowed to abrogate the fair use and library provisions authorized in the copyright statute.

Licenses may define the rights and privileges of the contracting parties differently than those defined by law. But licenses and contracts should not negate fair use and the public right to utilize copyrighted works. The research library community recognizes that there will be a variety of payment methods for the purchase of copyrighted materials in electronic formats, just as there are differing contractual agreements for acquiring printed information. The research library community is committed to working with publishers and database producers to develop model agreements that deploy licenses that do not contract around fair use or other copyright provisions.

Principle 5: Librarians and educators have an obligation to educate information users about their rights and responsibilities under intellectual property law.

Institutions of learning must continue to employ policies and procedures that encourage copyright compliance. For example, by requiring the posting of copyright notices on publicly available photocopy equipment. This practice should be updated to other technologies which permit the duplication of copyrighted works.

Principle 6: Copyright should not be applied to government information.

In the U.S., The Copyright Act of 1976 prohibits copyright of U.S. government works. Only under selected circumstances has Congress granted limited exceptions to this policy. Canadian government information should remain in the public domain free of copyright or copyright-like restrictions, but at this point in time each document has to be checked.

Principle 7: The information infrastructure must permit authors to be compensated for the success of their creative works, and copyright owners must have an opportunity for a fair return on their investment.

The research library community affirms that the distribution of copyrighted information which exceeds fair use and the enumerated limitations of the law require the permission of and/or compensation to authors, publishers and copyright owners. The continuation of library provisions and fair use in an electronic environment has far greater potential to promote the sale of copyrighted materials than to substitute for purchase. There is every reason to believe that the increasing demand for and use of copyrighted works fostered by new information technologies will result in the equivalent or even greater compensation for authors, publishers and copyright owners. The information infrastructure however, must be based on an underlying ethos of abundance rather than scarcity. With such an approach, authors, copyright owners, and publishers will have a full range of new opportunities in an electronic information environment and libraries will be able to perform their roles as partners in promoting science and the useful arts.

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Naval Marine Archive
The Canadian Collection

Revised: 16 May 2020