Understanding Fair Use

This tip is brought to you by librarian Patrick Newell.

In our work and studies, most of us realize that most of the content we use is digital (or gets digitized) content. For many of us who teach, as we build our classes online, we realize how much we rely on outside material for our courses. Outside of work, we share photos, videos, remixed music, and memes (both those we created as well as those found online) via text, email, web pages, and social media. A lot of our work, scholarship, teaching, and personal lives that take place online involve using materials created by other people (or companies) and sharing these materials with others.   

When preparing for classes, faculty constantly make decisions about materials regarding what documents we post online, what videos (and how much) we can show in an online class, and what materials we distribute in a classroom, and each of these decisions involve copyright law.  While copyright law provides copyright holders exclusive rights, it also provides a number of exceptions to these rights, including the legal right of fair use. Fair use is an essential limitation and exception to copyright, allowing the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances.   

To help educate the campus community about fair use, Meriam Library joins libraries worldwide celebrating Fair Use Week (February 26-March 1, 2024) and have created some fun opportunities to learn more about copyright and how it applies to the materials we use online (and offline) daily.   While fair use (and fair dealing outside of the U.S.) is employed daily by students, faculty, librarians, journalists, and all users of copyrighted material, Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week is a time to promote and discuss the opportunities presented, celebrate successful stories, and explain the doctrine. 

Please consider attending one of these events to Celebrate Fair Use Week with us. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 – 4pm to 530pm; Online Meeting – 90 minutes
Fair Use Boot Camp: How to Document Your Fair Use Argument
Please register at https://forms.gle/Jg891GrYQJREtxBo7

This workshop is focused on faculty and students who use copyrighted materials.  The first 60 minutes of this workshop will provide an overview of copyright law, the public domain, authors/creators- and copyright holders-rights (and exceptions to those rights), and how to document a Fair Use argument; the final 30 minutes of the workshop will include discussing the concerns attendees bring to the class and documenting their Fair Use arguments.  This online workshop will not be recorded to allow those attending to openly discuss their copyright issues.   

Thursday, February 29, 2024 – 11am to 1pm; Online Meeting – 120 minutes
Fair Use Study Hall [Non-Drowsy Formula]
Please register at  https://forms.gle/uAiXL9vp4QyL18y58

In this two-hour workshop, we will cover the same material from the Fair Use Boot Camp (above), but at a slower pace and with additional time for group work to resolve questions that arise from members of the class.  This workshop will not be recorded to allow students to openly discuss their copyright issues.   

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 – 12pm to 1pm; Meriam Library’s Innovation Lab
“Seems Fair To Me” – A Copyright Game Show
Cheer on (or shout advice from the audience to) the campus community’s mystery contestants as they answer questions about Fair Use from recent legal cases. This workshop will not be recorded to protect the dignity of all involved.

Please consider joining us for one of these educational opportunities.  We’ve attempted to make them engaging and interesting.  You be the judge! 

Zach Justus
Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

All past Tuesday Tips are curated on the FDEV website.

Perusall and Classroom Community

Sent on behalf of Dr. Alisa Wade, Assistant Professor of History and READI Equity Fellow.

Each time I open our Research in Equity, Antiracism, Diversity and Inclusion (READI) hub’s page on teaching instruction, I’m reminded of bell hooks’ powerful quote from Teaching to Transgress. “As a classroom community,” hooks wrote, “our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another’s voices, in recognizing one another’s presence.”  

Finding ways to build a sense of community in our classrooms—and fostering a safe and accessible learning space for students from a wide array of diverse backgrounds, experiences, identities, and needs—becomes critical to encouraging student success. At the same time, though, this process can feel daunting: especially when taking variations in the sizes of our classes, the unique needs of students, or even disciplinary conventions into consideration. I want to highlight one digital tool that I’ve found to be exceptionally useful in promoting active learning and reading, and, in turn, helping to foster dynamic discussion among a wider array of students in the classroom: Perusall.  

Perusall is a free platform for collaborative, social reading and annotation. It integrates with and can be accessed through our learning management systems, making it easy for students to open through an embedded link and syncing grades back to the class gradebook. Once classes are set up in Perusall, instructors designate materials to assign and design assignments around them (for some examples of how you might do this, see this library guide from Brandeis University). Instructors can choose to leave these assignments ungraded, grade them individually, or use and adapt Perusall’s automatic grading rubric for assessment. 

What makes Perusall so useful for building classroom community and contributing to equitable and inclusive pedagogy? 

Perusall enables faculty to assign a diverse array of material, at low or no cost to students. Faculty can create assignments from Perusall’s repository of existing textbooks and other readings, which does typically require students to purchase materials; but they can also upload their own PDFs covered by fair use guidelines, or channel materials that don’t meet those requirements through Perusall’s Copyright Clearance system (though students do pay a small fee for this process). Instructors can also draw on Open Educational Resources (OER) or link to other forms of digital media—podcasts, YouTube videos, or even open access online textbooks—for free, enabling students to engage with and annotate a wide selection of content representing a variety of mediums and facilitating creative approaches in the classroom (for more information on finding and selecting OER or affordable educational materials, see our Chico Affordable Learning Solutions (CAL$) program). 

It also helps build a sense of community (even in large courses!) and generates discussion inside and outside the classroom. In bigger classes, instructors can create smaller groups that carry over the course of the semester, encouraging students to get to know each other through their comments and annotations and interact in ways that are often difficult in large lecture halls. In smaller seminars, instructors can instead encourage the class to interact as a whole. It works well for in-person courses and can serve as a helpful tool for flipped classrooms, but as Professors Julie Lazzara and Virginia Clinton-Lisell have demonstrated, it is also incredibly effective in online or hybrid courses. And, it functions well across disciplines (see recent studies from the fields of biology, engineering, organic chemistry, philosophy, physics, political science, and psychology, for starters). 

Finally, Perusall also helps enhance student engagement with assigned class materials and address equity gaps in the classroom. Students are empowered, as individuals and collectively, to take ownership of readings and other content by asking and answering questions, making comments, annotating, and upvoting each other’s submissions. Instructors can easily see which portions are confusing to students and can answer any questions students might have as they work. This is particularly useful because academic reading can seem like such an intimidating undertaking for first year students, first generation students, and students for whom English isn’t their first language. Furthermore, a recent study in the Journal for Multicultural Educationcorroborates the impact of Perusall’s open annotation system on fostering inclusive and equitable pedagogy in the classroom and empowering those who frequently feel silenced—students of color, women, nonbinary students, and others from historically minoritized backgrounds—to confidently share their ideas. 

For more details and tips for getting started, see our campus Perusall support page