Two sets of guidelines, known as the Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions with Respect to Books and Periodicals and the Guidelines for Educational Uses of Music, were explicitly accepted as part of their understanding of fair use by the House and Senate conferees when Congress enacted the most recent comprehensive reform of U.S. copyright law in the Copyright Act of 1976. More recently, a large number of representatives of these communities participating in a two-year long Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) attempted to reach agreement on several different sets of educational fair use guidelines regarding digital images, distance learning, educational multimedia, electronic reserve systems, interlibrary loan and document delivery, and use of computer software in libraries. Although none of these proposed guidelines received the full endorsement of the CONFU participants, the proposed guidelines were deemed sufficiently advanced to be published in the final report on the Conference that was made to the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks in November, 1998.
Getting permission to copy is a critically important aspect of abiding by the fair use rules. In general, the permissions process involves 5 steps:
Determine if permission is needed
Identify the owner
Identify the rights needed
Contact the owner and negotiate whether payment is required
Get your permission agreement in writing
In copyright infringement cases, faculty and nonprofit educational institutions are essentially exempt from paying certain types of damages such as statutory damages, even when an infringement occurred. However, this exemption only applies when the person responsible for the infringement believes they were following fair use and is able to demonstrate best efforts to comply.
The fair use code is simple, but for further information please see the Stanford University Copyright and Fair Use Web site.
The TEACH Act may be viewed as an extension of Fair Use to electronic classroom conditions.