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Copyright and Fair Use: Open Resources under COVID-19

How much does copyright weigh in a pandemic?

Librarians lean into fair use to make the case for flexibility in using and making available copyrighted work to students in order to meet the educational demands of emergency remote teaching. In the words of Library Copyright Specialists: 

"Copyright law in the United States is made to support teaching, research, and learning. This stems from its Constitutional purpose, which is “to promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts.” One critical feature of copyright law is fair use, a flexible users’ right that allows the use of copyrighted works without permission. It accommodates a wide variety of circumstances, including new and rapidly evolving situations. In the words of one of our colleagues, April Hathcock, “'air use is made for just these kinds of contingencies.'"

From Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research 

See also American Library Association on Copyright and COVID-19

And, COVID-19, Copyright, & Library Superpowers by Kyle K. Courtney, Librarian & Copyright Academic


Newly Available Sources under COVID-10

As online classes continue to be the norm around the country, academic and educational publishers have stepped in to lessen the burden of the shift to the online environment. Check out these newly available resources for accessing free online academic works:

Public Books Database: Almost fifty prestigious academic presses make hundreds of their titles --both books and journals-- freely accessible to  instructors. This is a great place to find supplementary material for more specialized topics in fields such as Ethnic Studies, Public Health, Social Sciences.

JSTOR Open Access: JSTOR has partnered with libraries and publishers to make a range of academic books and journal articles readily accessible online to scholars, instructors, and students. Another excellent source of high quality supplementary material.

National Emergency Library: The Internet Archive temporarily makes approximately 4 million books available freely online to support "emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation while universities, schools, training centers, and libraries are closed." The action has not come without controversy, however, as many contemporary authors such as Colson Whitehead and Neil Gaiman have denounced the nonprofit for digitizing their work without permission. The collection also makes conveniently accessible and searchable over 2 million works in the public domain. 



Revisiting OpenEducation Resources under COVID-19

OER Research Guide: MCNY guide on open educational resources.

Institutional Repositories in Higher Ed

Institutional Repositories function as a digital commons. Faculty at a given higher ed institution share their published work and presentations online with the global academic community.  Institutional repositories can be wonderful resources for teaching ideas and materials. They can be easily linked to in an online course. Below are some examples. For a fuller list, go here.

CUNY Academic Works CUNY Academic Works provides for the preservation and dissemination of a full range of scholarship, including faculty research such as articles and conference presentations; educational materials; student works such as theses, dissertations, and prize papers; scholarly journals published by or associated with the University; digitized archival documents from CUNY’s libraries and special collections. 

Deep Blue  (University of Michigan)
University of Michigan's permanent, safe, and accessible service for representing our rich intellectual community.

ScholarlyCommons  (University of Pennsylvania)
Repository for the scholarly output of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.