Going to camp this summer? What about copyright boot camp?

While some of us spend the summer on the beach others take the time to get some extra credits – literally speaking. This summer I was both camp counsellor and director of camp. This was a day camp but spending all day in a classroom discussing and learning about copyright law, preparing readings and assignments in the evenings, it might as well have been a sleep-away camp. One student/camper told me he even had a dream about copyright law and returning to law school!

The Copyright + Licensing Institute

In July, I taught a one-week intensive course in the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C. This three-credit graduate-level course is called The Copyright + Licensing Institute. It is aimed at librarians and others who deal with copyright and licensing issues in their libraries and institutions and those who would like to be that copyright librarian. One of the eight students had a law degree.

Four of the five days of the Institute we were in a classroom at the CUA law school. We spent one full day at the U.S. Copyright Office. Day one of the Institute was an introduction to copyright law and licensing digital content. We spoke a lot about the role of the librarian in these matters, perspectives of copyright owners and users of content, and the balance in copyright law. Terry Hart from the Copyright Alliance was a guest speaker and talked about the history of copyright law and provisions for libraries and archives as well as the notion of balance in the U.S. Copyright Act. Day two we spent the day at the U.S. Copyright Office. The Copyright Office set up a terrific tour of the in-processing office, overview of the registration system and we got to “hang out” in the Copyright Office catalogs. Guest speakers talked about current copyright law as well as revisions to the U.S. Copyright Act. Day three we had in-depth discussions about library copyright issues as well as digital copyright issues. Kenny Crews from Gipson Hoffman & Pancione joined us via Skype and discussed recent court cases such as HathiTrust and Aereo as well as other relevant issues.

Day four focussed on clauses (27 of them!) in agreements for licensing digital content. We walked over to the Mullen Library on the CUA campus where Digital Acquisitions Librarian Lynn Weinstein shared her hands-on tips on how her library deals with electronic resources. By day five, I felt like the students were very knowledgeable and we spent much of the day pulling copyright and licensing together and discussing various scenarios in libraries and archives and how to deal with them.

Copyright Courses This Fall

I loved teaching what I’ve nicknamed the copyright bootcamp. It’s a ton of work for all but a great way to really learn a subject. I’m happy too though to be teaching my online copyright courses this Fall, one at a time, with breaks between courses; online and in-person courses both have a role and of course, an audience!

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