Legal Battle Brews Over Texts on Electronic Reserve at U. of California Libraries, from the Chronicle
Publishers are objecting to an electronic reserve system at the University of California…
Offering limited amounts of supplementary materials for educational purposes, without having to pay royalties, is allowed under fair-use doctrine. But how much access libraries can provide is not always clear under the law.
Mr. Adler [vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Association of American Publishers] contends that professors and libraries are offering too much.
“We are finding,” he said, “that far from being supplementary reading or additional reading supplied by the teacher, in many classes now it is becoming the required reading and the only reading.”
So let me see if I understand this correctly: publishers object to their publications being the primary readings in courses? Boo freaking hoo. I’d like to be in a position to object that my work is being cited too much. That should be the worst of my problems.
I won’t speak for all libraries at all institutions, but the libraries at UNC are super-careful about clearing copyrights & getting permissions & presumably paying fees to publishers where required, for every publication that’s on e-reserves. So it’s not like publishers are losing any money from UNC (and I’d presume most other academic libraries) using e-reserves systems. In fact, I’d think that publishers are making more money on e-reserves systems than they ever did with print reserves. Or am I missing something here? The only conclusion I can come to is that publishers are cheesed off about the demise of the course pack.
Seems to me, if publishers insist on putting restrictions on e-reserves systems, this will slow down the process of putting things on reserve even more than it already is. And putting things on reserve is already slow enough that many faculty opt out & find other ways to get readings to students. Such as, as Paul has pointed out (earlier today, even), Blackboard, the single greatest copyright-violating piece of software on campus. So, if it becomes more inconvenient to put things on reserve than it already is, faculty will respond by opting out even more by:
- Using Blackboard or whatever courseware app their school is using even more, or
- Printing out an article, having their TA photocopy enough copies for the class, and handing them out.
Does the Association of American Publishers want to regulate photocopier use in academic departments too? (I shouldn’t say that, they might get ideas.) The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.
In the spirit of framing the debate a la Lakoff, I suggest the following interpretation: commercial publishers want to prevent professors from using readings in their classes. Either that or they want to prevent students from reading. Let them respond to that.