LIBR 281-02
LIBR 281-11
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: Digital Copyright
Fall 2012 Greensheet

M. Minow
Office Hours: Most communication will occur within D2L or Collaborate so that the entire class can benefit. For other inquiries, please don't hesitate to email or telephone.

Greensheet Links
iSchool eBookstore

This course will be available on D2L on Wednesday, August 22, and students will be enrolled into the site automatically.  Weekly sessions will run Wednesday through Tuesday.

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 operations and services, from ebooks to book scanning projects to social media design. To participate in the active debate about first sale, fair use, digital rights management systems, and the like, librarians need to be well versed in both the basics of copyright law and the latest developments in regulations, legislation and court decisions.

Course Requirements

Subject to change with fair notice

Short assignments and quizzes (8 total) 48%
Class Discussion 10%
Research and thought pieces (2 total) 12%
Take home midterm 10%
Take home final 20%
Total 100%

Deadlines and Penalty for Late Work
All assignments are due by midnight of the day listed, unless otherwise stated. Assignments turned in late are subject to a 5% point penalty per day late. Exceptions will be made in extenuating circumstances.

Collaborate sessions  (drop-in)
Selected Wednesdays at 6 pm (Pacific)

  • Aug. 22
  • Aug. 29
  • Sept. 19
  • Oct. 10
  • Oct. 24

Additional dates may be scheduled. If you are unable to participate live, the sessions will be available in an archive.

Writing Requirement
If the instructor finds that a student's writing skills need significant improvement, the instructor will require the student to sign up for online writing tutoring.  The student will ask the tutor to confirm with the instructor that he or she is attending sessions.


  • Readings
The course is broken into topics, each of which will include some or all of the following: an online lecture provided by the instructor via D2L, readings from the textbooks, readings from the U.S. Copyright Office, current issues and other materials. (SLO #1-7)

  • Discussions
    This course requires reflective discussions informed by lectures and readings. Participation is mandatory for each discussion topic. Discussions will be graded as a whole for the entire semester. 10 points. (SLO #1-7)

  • Assignments and Exams
    • Big Picture assignment.  6 points
      This assignment is intended to introduce you to the major differences between trademark, patent, copyright and trade secret. What does each protect? For how long? What is needed to get protection? Read online sources, fill out a chart and take a quiz.
    • Determine the ownership and copyright status of items given in class. 6 points
      This assignment is intended to enable you to track down the copyright ownership of a work, and to determine whether it has or when it will enter the public domain. (SLO #3)

    • Register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. 6 points
      Watch a tutorial, read instructions and you’ll be ready to complete an actual U.S. Copyright registration form. Fill it out and join the class discussion to examine nuances. Optional: pay registration fee and submit to U.S. Copyright Office. (Student Learning Outcome (SLO #1)

    • LEXIS assignment. 6 points
      Browse LEXIS interface and explore its features. Participate in Collaborate session on using LEXIS (or watch it in archives later). Use LEXIS to follow step-by-step instructions to answer questions given to you on relevant library copyright issues. (SLO #7)

    • Library and Users’ rights. 6 points
      Study Section 108, 110 and related provisions that are known as copyright exceptions and limitations. These are specific rights granted to libraries and others to make and use copies for specific purposes. Answer quiz questions based on the readings. (SLO #4)

    • Research and Thought Assignment #1. 6 points
      Write a 3-5 page essay based on research using LEXIS and other sources on issues facing libraries and users today. Specific topic to be assigned based on current events. (SLO #2)

    • Fair Use. 6 points
      Answer questions based on the readings on Fair Use. Additionally, use the discussion board to post a library scenario that poses Fair Use questions. Become a juror and vote on other students’ scenarios. (SLO #5)

    • Take home midterm. 10 points
      Students are given one week to work on this open-book midterm exam. Pull together copyright basics learned thus far. (SLO #2)

    • Licensing and Permissions. 6 points
      Use the Copyright Clearance Center to check pricing and availability of specific items. Answer questions about permissions and licensing. (SLO #6)

    • Creative Commons Licenses. 6 points
      Learn how to search for creative commons licensed works, distinguish between the permissions granted by the different types of licenses, and create a creative commons license to place on one of your own works. Answer questions in a quiz format. (SLO #3)

    • Research and Thought Assignment #2. 6 points
      Write a 3-5 page essay based on research using LEXIS and other sources on issues facing libraries and users today. Specific topic to be assigned based on current events. (SLO #2)

    • Take-home final. 20 points
      Students are given two weeks to work on the open-book final exam. This is an opportunity to pull the student's learning on copyright issues facing libraries and library users today. (SLO #2)

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

LIBR 200LIBR 202LIBR 204Other prerequisites may be added depending on content. 

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Articulate major issues and problems related to metadata.
  2. Apply current metadata terminology and concepts, including major content and encoding schemes for digital libraries.
  3. Analyze and critically apply different approaches to metadata creation, storage, management, and dissemination within different information communities for different purposes.
  4. Critically analyze and compare different metadata standards and their applicability to different contexts, and apply basic metadata quality metrics to assess the relative quality of different types of descriptive metadata.
  5. Create descriptive metadata for digital resources, and design and plan metadata database templates for digital resource projects.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of information policy issues and services from an ethical standpoint, as well as noting the differences between professional ethics and legality.
  7. Build the skills needed to make decisions on complex cases related to information access, services, technology and society.
  8. Analyze the importance of professional conduct in the workplace, including those elements related to interpersonal interactions, sensitivity to organizational culture, ability to take initiative and risks, and socially responsible behavior as it relates to ethical (professional) dilemmas.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

LIBR 281 supports the following core competencies:

  1. A Articulate the ethics, values, and foundational principles of library and information professionals and their role in the promotion of intellectual freedom.
  2. C Recognize and describe cultural and economic diversity in the clientele of libraries or information organizations.
  3. E Design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems.
  4. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital items and collections.
  5. G Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information, including classification, cataloging, metadata, or other systems.


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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