LIBR 281-04
LIBR 281-13
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: Digital Copyright
Spring 2012 Greensheet

M. Minow
Office Hours: Elluminate drop in sessions as needed 

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
Course Calendar
iSchool eBookstore

Students will be automatically enrolled in the D2L site for this course. The course will be automatically available to students on January 25, 2012.

Course Description

This course examines digital copyright by giving students a legal and policy framework to evaluate the myriad of copyright scenarios libraries face today. Copyright issues permeate daily tasks, from web site design to book scanning projects to online reference. To participate in the active debate about ebooks, fair use, digital rights management systems, e-reserve systems and the like, librarians need to be well versed in both the basics of copyright law and the latest developments by regulation, legislation and court decisions.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 200, 202, 204 required.

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes

  • ability to register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office
  • ability to apply a flow-chart to a wide range of copyright issues libraries face
  • facility with tools to determine copyright status of a work
  • specific knowledge of U.S. library copyright exception, 17 U.S.C. Sect. 108
  • ability to make a good faith Fair Use copyright analysis in multiple scenarios
  • familiarity with seeking permission, particularly through the Copyright Clearance Center
  • ability to search LEXIS for copyright related questions

LIBR 281 supports the following MLIS Core Competencies:

  • A. articulate the ethics, values and foundational principles of library and information professionals and their role in the promotion of intellectual freedom
  • C. recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use
  • E. design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems

Course Requirements

Subject to change with fair notice

Short assignments and quizzes (8 total) 80%
Class Discussion 10%
Final paper or project due May 9, 2011
Final paper or project is 10 - 15 pages. Interim stages are required including an outline, a rough draft, and comments on other students' work.
Total 100%

Course Grading
In order to provide consistent guidelines for the assessment of graduate level work, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course
  • B represents good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work
  • A represents exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a Grade Point Averate (GPA) of 3.0.

Deadlines and Penalty for Late Work
All assignments are due by midnight of the day listed, unless otherwise stated. Assignments turned in late (unless excused) are subject to a 5% point penalty per day late.

Course Calendar

Please note that the course calendar is "subject to change with fair notice" All assignments due by midnight of the day listed.

Week 1: Jan. 25 - 31 Patents and Trademarks and Copyrights, Oh My!

  • Wednesday January 25 at 6pm - drop in Elluminate
  • Objective: Students should be able to distinguish the chief characteristics of the four main types of intellectual property.

    This week we look at the BIG PICTURE. Copyright is only one way to control intellectual property. Moreover, copyright is only one way to control content. Put on your hat as a content owner, and figure out the different ways you can try to keep control of your works.
  • Assignment 1: Big Picture assignment.  Due January 31 (midnight).  10 points
  • Reading:
    • *Crews. Introduction. This Book and the Importance of Copyright
    • * Patents, Copyright & Art pages - 
    • Read the main topics listed on Patents, Copyright, Trademarks and Trade Secrets
    • Browse:   Just get a sense of what this resource has to offer. It's a great place to go if you receive a cease & desist letter, or better yet, look here before you get one. View live c & d letters on the right side of the page – distinguish between c & d letters for copyright, trademark, domain name and other claims of infringement. The chillingeffects FAQs on Copyright, Trademarks, Patents, and Trade Secrets are quite good.

Week 2: Feb. 1 - 7  Is this work copyrighted or is it in the public domain?

  • Wednesday February 1 at 6 pm - drop in Elluminate
  • Objective: Students will gain facility with tools to determine the copyright status of a work.  Students will begin to use a flowchart to approach copyright problems facing libraries.

    Also known as the “Mickey Mouse” Act, the passage of the Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998 added twenty years to the term of copyright. How long are copyrights valid today? What does this mean for the public domain? 
  • Assignment 2: Determine the ownership and copyright status of items given in class. Are they still in copyright? Due Feb. 7.  10 points
  • Reading:
    • *Crews. 1. The Copyright Path: Familiar Needs and Copyright Solutions
    • *Crews. 2. The Scope of Protectable Works
    • *Crews. 3. Works without Copyright Protection
    • *Crews. 4. Duration and Formalities: How Long Do Copyrights Last?
    • *Crews. 17.  Special Feature: Copyright, Archives, and Unpublished Materials

Week 3: Feb 8 - 14 What can be copyrighted, and what does copyright protect?

  • Objective: Students will learn the scope of copyright protection.

    Many people overestimate and underestimate the scope of copyright. Some think that copyright can protect their ideas. Some think they need to file with the Copyright Office to get protection. Both of these are misconceptions. This week, we'll clear up exactly what can be copyrighted and what that copyright protects.
  • Assignment 3: Register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office for a work you created (any format – website, blog, article, music, art etc.)  Optional: Pay the fee and follow through with the application. Due Feb. 14.  10 points
  • Reading
    • *Crews. 5. Who Owns the Copyright?
    • *Crews. 6. The Rights of Copyright Owners
    • *eCO Online System (read Tips, FAQs and Tutorial) 
    • *17 U.S.C. Sect. 106
    • *Hirtle. 3.3 - 3.5. Who is the owner of copyright? Etc.
    • *Hirtle. 4. Exclusive Rights and Infringement

Week 4: Feb. 15- 21 Using LEXIS to research copyright

  • Objective: Students will learn how to search LEXIS for copyright related questions.

    LEXIS has the copyright code, court cases, and secondary legal sources that can help you with your final paper or project. 
  • Assignment 4: Answer questions using LEXIS to find articles and cases concerning copyright. Due Feb. 21. 10 points

Week 5: Feb. 22 - 28 The HOT STUFF: Section 108, The Library Exception (Learn this, if nothing else!)

  • Wednesday February 22 at 6 pm - drop in Elluminate
  • Objective: Students will gain specific knowledge of U.S. library copyright exception, 17 U.S.C. Sect. 108 as well as familiarity with Section 110 (1) and (2).

    Section 108 is the basis of much of what we do in the library world. It sets forth the gospel on how and when we can make legal copies for digital preservation replacement, interlibrary loan, as well as absolving us from liability when patrons use our equipment to make dubious downloads and copies. This section should be at the bedside of every library school graduate.
  • Assignment 5: Answer questions on libraries and other users’ rights. Due Feb. 28. 10 points
  • Reading:
    • *Crews. 7. Exceptions to the Rights of Owners
    • *Crews. 12. Distance Education and the TEACH Act
    • *Crews. 13. Libraries and the Special Provisions of Section 108
    • *17 U.S.C. Sect. 108
    • *17 U.S.C. Sect. 110(1) and (2)
    • *Hirtle. 6. The Libraries and Archives Exemptions

Week 6: Feb. 29 - March 6 It gets even hotter: Section 108

  • Objective:  Students will get up to date on the current status of Section 108, which may be undergoing revision.
  • Final Assignment – Topic due March 6. Include a short outline with at least three subtopics you will discuss. Worth 2 of the Final Paper’s 20 points.   2 points
  • Reading:
    • *Library of Congress Section 108 Study Group. Read the home page and the executive summary of the Report.
    • *U.S. Copyright Office. Circular 21. Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians (find this at U.S. Copyright Office website).


  • Objective: Students will learn how to make a good faith Fair Use copyright analysis in multiple scenarios. Google book search, your own personal copying, storytimes and book jacket scans all depend on generous interpretations of fair use. What is fair use, and how is it determined? 
  • Assignment 6: Answer questions about Fair Use. Due March 13. 10 points
    Additionally, use the discussion board to describe a library scenario that might qualify for Fair Use. 
  • Reading

Week 8: March 14 - 20 MORE FAIR USE

Week 9: March 21 - 24/ April 1 - 3 Licenses and managing rights

  • Objective: Students will gain familiarity with seeking permission, particularly through the Copyright Clearance Center.
  • Assignment 7: Use the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) to check pricing and availability of specific items. Answer questions about permission and licensing of materials. Due April 3. 10 points
  • Reading:
    • *Crews. 18. Special Feature: Permission from Copyright Owners
    • *Hirtle. 7. Copyright Permissions and Licenses
    • *Hirtle. 8. Locating Copyright Owners

Week 10: April 4 - 10 Creative approaches and alternatives 

  • Wednesday April 4 (tentative) at 6 pm - drop in Elluminate
  • Objective: Students will be exposed to a broad range of current approaches to creatively handling content.
  • Assignment 8: Put a creative commons license on something you’ve created that is online. Make sure it has the creative commons “code” so that it will show up in user searches. For example, Firefox browser has a creative commons plug-in that makes it easy and fun to search for cc-licensed content. Go to to create the license.   Then answer some questions. Due April 10. 10 points
  • Reading:

Week 11: April 11 - 17 Enforcement and Liability(Maybe you should have read this first!)

  • Objective: Students will learn the penalties for copyright infringement.
  • Reading:
    • *Crews. 14. Responsibilities, Liabilities and Doing the Right Thing
    • 17 U.S.C. Sect. 504
    • Hirtle. 10. Risk Management: How to Digitize Safely

Week 12: April 18 - 24 Special Features: Music and the DMCA

  • Objective: Students will bring together much of what they have learned when analyzing copyright issues concerning music. Students will also learn more about the layer of DMCA added to the content control tools.
  • Final Assignment – Rough draft due to small group. Get this in on time and get 3 of the Final Paper’s 20 points. Due April 24.  3 points
  • Reading:
    • *Crews. 15. Music and Copyright
    • *Crews. 16. Anticircumvention and the DMCA

Week 13: April 25 - May 1 Traditional Knowledge and the International Framework

  • Objective: Students should be exposed to an international context when considering copyright issues.
  • Final Assignment – Read and comment on two papers in your small group. Get your thoughtful comments done on time and get 3 of the Final Paper’s 20 points. Due May 1.  3 points
  • Reading:
    • Hirtle chart – see section “Outside the United States”
    • Hirtle. 9. Other Types of Intellectual Property, Contracts, and Jurisdictional Issues

Week 14: May 2 - 8 Activism

  • Objective: Students will become familiar with the interests and activist efforts on all sides of the copyright questions facing libraries today.
  • Reading:

Week 15: May 9 - 15 Putting it all together

  • Assignment: Final Paper or Project 10-15 pages. You should already have up to 8 points of the 20 points nailed down.  Due May 9.  Remaining points for Final Paper: 12 points
  • Objective: Students will have fuller understanding of flow-chart to use when faced with a wide range of copyright issues libraries face.

Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbooks:

  • Crews, K. (2011). Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators: Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions, Third Edition. ALA Editions. Available through Amazon: 0838910920. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Hirtle, P., Hudson, E. & Keyon, A. (2009). Copyright & Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives & Museums. Cornell University Library. Available through Amazon: 0935995102. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -on the second attempt- you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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