Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Copyright Guidebook Helps Instructors Avoid Copyright Violations

University Readers, a custom-publishing company servicing the academic market, is introducing the Copyright Guidebook to help instructors avoid copyright violations.

The New York Times recently reported a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by multiple publishers against Georgia State University (and several university administrators) for allegedly improperly distributing the publishers' content without permission. According to University Readers, this legal action highlights the need to educate instructors on copyright laws as they apply to the classroom, as well as the implications of not following best practices.

Its creators say the University Readers Copyright Guidebook was designed to clarify impressions and assumptions that many academics have about using an assortment of copyrighted material as a substitute for textbooks. For more information on proper classroom use of copyrighted materials, visit University Readers Copyright Page.

According to University Readers, the increasing use of previously published materials for custom textbooks, course packs and course readers is in part a response to the much-criticized increase in the price of off-the-shelf textbooks. However, many instructors who want students to read specific excerpts from books, articles, essays and other works are unclear about which content requires copyright clearance and how they can obtain proper clearance.

Furthermore, the company says many instructors are unaware of the personal repercussions for violations, which can be as much as $150,000 per infringement. Since securing copyright clearances is time-consuming and can be cumbersome, many professors simply don't spend the time or effort required to do so correctly. In turn, they unwittingly put their school or department at risk as a result.

The Georgia State lawsuit is an example of what can happen if proper copyright practices are not followed, says University Readers. In the lawsuit, according to The New York Times, 'Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Sage Publications sued four university officials, asserting 'systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works' by Georgia State, which the university distributes through its Web site.'

The University Readers Copyright Guidebook was written to help instructors avoid getting tangled in this kind of legal mess. The guidebook is an easy-to-read primer on best copyright practices. Written in 'plain English' by a team of on-staff, custom-publishing experts -- and available on the University Readers Web site as a downloadable PDF-- the Copyright Guidebook condenses and summarizes a 24-page House Subcommittee Report on fair use and appropriate copying in educational settings.


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