Previous by Date Index by Date
Threaded Index
Next by Date

Previous by Thread Next by Thread

Re: Multimedia Fair Use Guidelines

I would like to comment on some of the issues Rod raises in his recent
message concerning the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia. I
recently submitted a rather lengthy reply to a similar message from Mary
Jackson, so I will attempt to only respond here to items not covered in my
reply to Mary Jackson. 

Stan Diamond


> From: Rod Stenlake <>
>This is an effort to respond to Stan Diamond's question concerning library
>opposition to the Multimedia Fair Use Guidelines. Although I am not a
>librarian, nor am I a member of the ALA or ARL, I can speculate as to what
>may be some of the objections to the Guidelines.
>While generally the attempt to inject some precision into vague legal
>standards is a laudable goal, in some cases some ambiguity is better than
>too much precision.  The four factor fair use test  employs the chief isses
>that should be weighed when attempting to evaluate whether a particular use
>should be permitted.  To paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Powell, I
>think we all know a fair use when we see it.  I don't see anything about
>electronic and digital information that justifies a more precise definition
>of the amount of copyrighted material that may be fairly used.  The issue
>of how much and how often material can be copied fairly, whether it be
>digital or more traditional media, can best be determined by the
>traditional four factor test. Mechanical and rigid limitations on the
>amount of material that may be fairly used (section 4.2 et. seq.)  may be
>adequate for some purposes, but very often will not be appropriate for
>others.  Forcing scholars to count words and run stop-watches to do their
>work of educating does not seem like a reasonable requirement.

(Stan Diamond responds...)

The "mechanical and rigid limitations..." are there to provide a clear and
precise guide to creating multimedia projects under fair use. A single
multimedia project may contain anywhere from several hundred to several
thousand separate pieces of text and media. The task of applying the four
factors of fair use to each and every one of these segments appears to be
significantly more onerous that keeping track to the duration of each
segment. In addition, while it is not spelled out in the portion factor,
the traditionally accepted rule of thumb has been (I believe) 10% or less
of a media work. 

>(Rod Stenlake states...)
>The requirement that copyrighted materials may not be used for remote
>learning unless they can not be copied (Section 3.2.3)  presents a
>tremendous limitation on the use of the internet for distance learning.  As
>a practical matter, I am not aware of any way of preventing users from
>copying materials displayed on a computer screen.  The limited use of such
>materials permitted in the event that copying cannot be prevented entirely
>(e.g., availability of the materials for short time limits, etc.) does not
>remedy the problem, since a course usually lasts several months and
>students will need to refer to course materials throughout the term.  And
>permitting copies of the materials at the school defeats entirely the
>promise of distance learning.

(Stan Diamond responds...)

Our charge by CONFU was to address the issues of creating multimedia
projects under fair use. The greatest use of these will be in face to face
teaching, at least for the next several years. Another group was charged
with dealing with the issues of utilizing media for distance ed. I view
the fact that we were able to gain agreement to use digitized media and
text over the network in any manner as a major accomplishment. No other
CONFU working group other that digital imaging was able to reach concensus
on any use of digitized media or text over a network. 

>(Rod Stenlake states...)
>The two year time limitation on use of the materials is also a problem, as
>instructors will have to keep tabs on just when they used a copyrighted
>piece of information.  Since many instructors continually revise and update
>their work, without completely discarding the basic course materials, it
>will be difficult to determine when the two year limitations period expires.

(Stan Diamond responds...)

I believe that time limitations apply to any fair use. One can copy almost
anything to use for teaching purposes under fair use, but when one tries
to use the same copied material year after year... that quickly falls
outside the realm of fair use. 

>(Rod Stenlake states...)
>The time limitation issue leads to a larger point:  The Guidelines seem to
>extend control over the original work of educators and students.  Under
>traditional notions of the fair use doctrine, if a use is considered
>"fair", then the user may pretty much do what it wants with the material.
>These guidelines, however, seem to give the copyright holders perpetual
>control over the mulimedia project as a whole.

(Stan Diamond responds...)

This last point regarding original work appears to be simply
argumentative.  The guidelines state in almost every sections that they
are intended to apply only to the fair use of copyrighted material in the
creation of a multimedia teaching project. Obviously any original creative
work by either teachers or students is not affected by any copyright
limitation. I also do not see how the guidelines give the proprietary
community any hold whatsoever over the completed multimedia project. 

Stan Diamond, Manager         (814) 863-3100
Audio Visual Services         (814) 863-2574 (Fax)
Special Services Bldg         (800) 826-0132 Order line
1127 Fox Hill Rd,      
Univ. Park, PA 16803          HTTP://
!!! Subscribe to the Satellite Teleconference on the Fairuse Guidelines for
Educational Multimedia - Feb 20 1-3PM (E.S.T.) on PBS/ALS!!!
© 1996, 1997 Yale University Library
Please read our Disclaimer
E-mail us with feedback