Publishers probe ‘eReserves’ policy

    After reviewing UC electronic reserves program policies, the Association of American Publishers said that it believes that the university may be in violation of a federal copyright law.

    The AAP sent a letter to UCSD officials in June questioning the use of certain postings made on the campus libraries’ Web site, according to UC counsel Mary MacDonald. The organization has been in correspondence with the campus for six months and has scheduled a November meeting with UC officials to discuss system-wide policies for use of copyrighted materials.

    “The AAP was concerned with the lawful use of the material in the electronic reserves,” MacDonald said. “They wanted to know whether we had permission to use the material or if its use followed the ‘fair use clause’ under the copyright law. Their allegation was that UCSD ‘eReserves’ didn’t fit into either of these two criteria and this then transcended into questioning the policies of all [campuses] throughout the UC system.”

    The eReserves is a free service for students and faculty that provides online access to the material professors use in course readers.

    Allan Adler, the vice president for legal and government affairs for the AAP, said professors made large numbers of postings in violation of authors’ and publishers’ copyrights.

    “We wanted UCSD to review with us the process it uses to maintain the accountability and management that ensured [that] the copyright policy was complied with,” Adler said. “[The Academic Senate] responded to the challenge in a fairly vague and unhelpful manner. All they told us was that they made changes in the management and overseeing of the accountability of the material used. They didn’t inform us of the clear copyright policy they were enforcing.”

    Current university practices may violate the federal fair use clause, a principle that allows use of portions of copyrighted text for commentary or criticism.

    According to Marlayna Christensen, the director of access services with UCSD Libraries, the material posted on eReserves do meet the criteria of fair use under the law.

    “[The university] is well within [its fair use rights], which allow for the educational use of copyrighted material,” Christensen said. “The use of the material is determined to be of fair use so long as it follows the guidelines stated in the clause.”

    Adler said he disagreed with the legitimacy of the postings on the service and with the assumption that educational purposes will qualify for royalty-free use of printed materials.

    “Not every educational use is within guidelines of the [appropriate legal clause],” Adler said. “Some statutory criteria under the federal law determine whether the use complies with the clause.”

    The AAP has not asked the university to pay back royalties, and possible legal action is yet to be determined, according to Adler.

    “We still have legal options, but because we view this as a universitywide problem, we want to communicate with the Office of the General Council and with the UC Board of Regents concerning the infringement of copyright laws in the eReserves service,” he said.

    The AAP has also requested that the materials placed on eReserves be available to the general public in order to qualify for fair use.

    No plans have been made to shut down the service, according to MacDonald.

    “We don’t know if there is any illegal situation at all,” MacDonald said. “We are going to check all the policies to see if some, or if any, revisions are needed.”

    If changes are needed, they will be made in such a way that takes into account the needs of students, according to MacDonald.

    “If anything, we will only be looking into revisions here and there,” MacDonald said. “The university would not act in any rash manner. … It is very important to us that our students and faculty have access to the libraries’ resources.”

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