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Fair Use Best Practices for Open Educational Resources Endorsed by ARL

logo for Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources

Iconic news images from the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s can be powerful tools to help students ground events like the murder of George Floyd in their rightful historical context. But uncertainty and anxiety about how, and to what extent, copyrighted materials can be used within open educational resources (OER) has presented challenges to creators of OER. Fair use is a critical component of ensuring high-quality OER are created and used on campuses and in education nationwide. To help OER creators meet their pedagogical goals and support the highest-quality student learning, the American University (AU) Washington College of Law and AU’s Center for Media & Social Impact released their new Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources last week.

Endorsed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), “this Code is a tool for educators, librarians, and authors to evaluate common professional scenarios in which fair use can enable them to incorporate inserts, including those protected by copyright, to create OER. It can provide groups working on OER projects with a shared framework for evaluating and understanding when and how to incorporate existing content to meet pedagogical needs.”

Research libraries are key partners with academic faculty in creating and publishing high-quality OER. Many libraries also provide consultations on what falls within fair use for copyrighted materials. According to Toby Graham, university librarian and associate provost at the University of Georgia, “this document clarifies key areas where there is consensus not only on what is OK, but on applications that exemplify why fair use exists in the first place.”

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