May 30, 2000
To the Editor:
We are writing on behalf of four library associations--the Association of Research Libraries, the American Library Association, the American Association of Law Libraries, and the Medical Library Association--concerning the recent Chronicle of Higher Education story, "Music Educators Put Recordings Online, Warily " (5/26/2000). Contrary to your article's mischaracterization of our position, the principal library and education associations for several years actively opposed and did not endorse the set of guidelines alluded to in your article, "Educational Fair Use Guidelines for Multimedia." Our opposition to these guidelines was based primarily on their highly restrictive nature. For example, we noted at the time and still believe that the guidelines impose overly strict and narrow portion limitations and that they unduly restrict instructional creativity and the development of in-depth multimedia applications for distance education activities. The strictly-articulated quantitative limitations establish untenable precedents that narrow the interpretation of fair use.
Unfortunately, as the story notes, we have been proven correct in our interpretation of the potential impact of these guidelines. Educators, following these non-binding guidelines, are unable to engage in lawful activities because of the guidelines' restrictive nature. We encourage institutions to extend the application of fair use into digital networked environments by relying on fair use responsibly to lawfully make creative use of information. We also call upon our communities to resist relying upon any proposed code of conduct that may substantially or artificially constrain the full and appropriate application of fair use.
We request that a correction that accurately reflects our stated position be published in the print and online versions of The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Association of Research Libraries
Washington Affairs Representative,
American Association of Law Libraries
American Library Association
Medical Library Association