The development of new digital technologies has led to fundamental changes in the ways that cultural institutions fulfill their public missions of access, preservation, research, and education. Many institutions are developing publicly-accessible websites in which users can visit online exhibitions, search collection databases, access images of collection items, and in some cases create their own digital content. Digitization, however, also raises the possibility of copyright infringement. It is imperative, therefore, that staff in libraries, archives, and museums have a good understanding of fundamental copyright principles and how institutional procedures can be affected by the law. Copyright and Cultural Institutions was written to assist understanding and compliance with copyright law. It discusses the basics of copyright law and the exclusive rights of the copyright owner, the major exemptions used by cultural heritage institutions, and stresses the importance of "risk assessment" when conducting any digitization project. Two cases studies (on digitizing oral histories and student work) are also included.
A recent issue brief (February 19, 2010) that presents specific reasons, based on copyright law, supporting allowable instances of streaming entire films to students in a remote non-classroom location.
This segment of UT's online information on fair use is brief and to the point. Considers the basic question: "Is the image you wish to digitize readily available online or for sale or license at a fair price?"