The University of California has issued a revised systemwide policy on Copyright and Fair Use, replacing the 1986 Policy on the Reproduction of Copyrighted Materials for Teaching and Research and its accompanying guidelines. The revised policy, which became effective July 9, 2015, is a clear statement by the University in support of copyright law, including the principle of fair use. The UC Copyright website, which has more detailed information about copyright and fair use for members of the UC community, has also been revised.
As a result of feedback received during the policy review process, UC’s new Copyright and Fair Use policy includes an explicit statement about what would happen in the unlikely event of a copyright infringement claim against a UC employee: “the University will defend its employees who acted within the scope of their University employment and who made use of the copyrighted work at issue in an informed, reasonable, and good faith manner.”
The former policy, issued in 1986, included long and detailed guidelines about applying the criteria of fair use to photocopying — which quickly became out of date and inaccurate. The revised policy is a much shorter document that serves instead as a “governing principle,” following UC best practices for presidential policies. Guidelines and other details are now maintained on the revised and expanded UC Copyright website, where they can be refreshed more quickly to reflect emerging concerns, shifts in the law, and other changes. This site was recently given a complete overhaul to enable it to better support members of the UC community understand their rights and obligations under copyright law and UC policy.
Highlights of the UC Copyright website include:
- Information on use of copyrighted materials in the classroom. Those who are looking for something that provides focus and structure similar to the 1986 policy’s old photocopying guidelines will find this a useful page. But it’s not about photocopying: the new guidelines reflect the changes in both technology and fair use law over the past 30 years. The section on “multiple copies for classroom use” shows similarities with the approach outlined in the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries published in January 2012.
- Frequently asked questions about copyright ownership and use of copyrighted works. These FAQ pages include questions about the copyrightability of charts and data, what to do if you discover your work is being distributed without your permission, and exceptions for people with disabilities. Questions that aren’t answered on the site can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and will be used to develop future FAQs. The Copyright and Fair Use policy also advises the University community to contact their campus librarians, campus counsel office or the Office of General Counsel with copyright questions.
- A summary of who owns the copyright for different types of works created at UC. Students and staff often have questions about this issue, which is covered by multiple UC policies. This table provides quick at-a-glance guidance to those policies based on factors like the type of work and the context of its creation.
The revision of the new Copyright and Fair Use policy was completed by the Standing Subcommittee on Copyright Policy (SSCP), a subcommittee of the Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee (SLASIAC). SSCP also maintains the UC Copyright website. To read more about the policy revision process, visit SSCP’s Resources page. The materials hosted there include helpful background documents, including a redline comparison of the final review draft of the new policy and the 1986 policy and Provost Aimee Dorr’s March 2015 cover letter from the final review period.