Back to top

Copyright Statement of Principles

  1. Copyright should exist for the public good.

    The United States copyright law is founded on a Constitutional provision (Article I, Section 8) intended to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." The fundamental purpose of copyright was to serve the public interest by encouraging the advancement of knowledge through a system of limited rights for authors and copyright owners. Fair use and other public rights to utilize copyrighted works, specifically and intentionally included in the 1976 revision of the law, provide an essential balance between the rights of authors, publishers and copyright owners, and society's interest in the free exchange of ideas.

  2. Fair use and other relevant provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976 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. The Copyright Act of 1976 defines intellectual property principles in a way that is independent of the form of publication or distribution. These provisions apply to all forrnats and are essential to modern information services.

  3. Libraries, schools, universities 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 and educational institutions 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 inforrnation will be the responsibility of libraries and they will continue to perform this important societal role.

    The policy framework of the 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 that use electronic or other appropriate technologies as they emerge.

  4. Licensing agreements should not be allowed to abrogate fair use authorized in the copyright statute.

    Licenses may define the rights and privileges of the contracting parties differently than those defined by the Copyright Act of 1976. 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.

  5. Educators and librarians 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, the Copyright Act of 1976 required the posting of copyright notices on photocopy equipment. This practice should be updated to other technologies that permit the duplication of copyrighted works.

  6. At present, too many works are presently too inaccessible to average readers.

    Significant increases in the cost of published works, linked to significant reorganization of the publishing industry since 1979, has made too many works prohibitively expensive or too difficult to access for the culture of leisure reading that had existed in the United States. When possible, we should make high-quality works freely available to the largest possible reading audience. The EServer does not and will not charge readers for access to read published works.