For-Profit Education

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  • Hi, I know that this issue has been brought up in the past, but I am hoping for some fresh ideas and insight. How do people at for profit educational institutions deal with copyright? What sorts of issues do you face? What do you do in the case of violations? I have not been able to find any case law that applies to the for profit educational sector, and the institution that I work for seems uneasy with the "fair use" exemption, due to the first factor. I would love some resources, or copyright policies from similar institutions. Anything to help clarify. Thanks so much! Josie
  • For-profit institutions can't use the libraries and archives exemption to copyright law, and don't get some of the statutory protections that non-profit educational institutions receive. So their libraries are more restricted in what they can do for themselves and for patrons in certain respects. They can rely on first sale and fair use like anyone else, however, and the educational mission does help with fair use. Also, the first factor will affect the institution itself to a certain extent, but not necessarily the work of their students. Anyway, for at least one good example, I'd take a look at Stanford's policy. It's necessarily more restrictive than public non-profit universities, but workable. ARL also has some materials about fair use and libraries. Stanford has some resources listed:

    There are also consortia of libraries of private educational institutions that talk about copyright, like SCELC in California.

    What kinds of uses were you concerned about?
  • I agree with COvalle about the limitations on libraries in commercial, for-profit institutions. I'm not sure that Stanford University is a good example, though. It's a great website for copyright in higher education, but it seems that while Stanford is private, it is still not-for-profit. In any case, looking at their materials on copyright, they do specifically mention a library exception.

    Unfortunately, I haven't yet found another example. I've checked a few for-profit university websites, but have had difficulty finding their library pages, much less those related to copyright. I wish I had more to offer!
  • I will add that when making a fair use determination, which you will have to do all of the time, I suggest that each factor is on a continuum. For the first factor, yes absolutely a for-profit educational use is not as good as a non-profit educational use. On the other hand, a for profit commercial use is worse than a for-profit educational use. This is the way I try to think about fair use when I weigh the factors.

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