This past Monday, Northwestern University and CARLI hosted a half-day event titled “Copyright and Fair Use in the Digital Age,” which was attended by over 130 librarians, and prompted by the recent publication of ARL’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries. The presenters at the conference were Brandon Butler (Director of Public Policy, ARL), Peter Jaszi (Professor of Law, American University), and Sarah Hinchcliffe Pearson (Senior Counsel, Creative Commons). For those who missed out, Margaret Heller, Web Services Librarian at Dominican University, has posted a wonderful recap of the event over at her blog, Glorious Generalist. In addition, the website ARL put together for the Code is highly recommended and includes an excellent FAQ for librarians that’s really a must read. You can find more here: http://www.arl.org/fairuse.

The fair use code of best practices is a very important and powerful document for academic and research libraries and once we’ve all finished learning the issues and reading the code itself, the next step is to put it into action and begin asserting our rights as an informed and empowered community. In fact, just a few hours ago I had the opportunity in my job to use the Code—principle two, to be precise—and it was truly a liberating feeling to know that the choice a colleague and I made (a choice we normally would have at best delayed making and at worst, and most likely, never made at all) had been informed by the best practice of our colleagues across the country and the lawyers who helped shape and vet this document.

If you want to keep up on the latest news on this document, I recommend following Brandon Butler’s brilliant Twitter feed at @ARLpolicy and/or following the #librarianscode hashtag on Twitter. For more on fair use issues, check out Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi’s Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright, out now from University of Chicago Press.