AkLA 2014: Your Copyright Compass

One of my best friends and coworkers is Freya Anderson of the Alaska State Library. One of her passions is copyright and other the years she has received national recognition for her expertise.

I attended her session Your Copyright Compass at the 2014 Alaska Library Association (AkLA) Conference.

After the usual and customary disclaimers ALL librarians give when discussing copyright law, Freya asserted that your best approach to copyright matters is to …

Be nice. Nice people and organizations get more sympathy in court. How can your organization be nice? Freya suggested:

  • Be consistent – Use the same tests to decide whether it is ok to use something. Accept the result of “you can’t do that” when your method so indicates.
  • Be fair
  • Be diligent – Look for the copyright holders. Clear copyright fees when appropriate.
  • Be honest
  • Communicate

The session also centered on things that aren’t usually copyrightable. The biggest surprise for me was recipes. As long as you stick to ingredients lists and BASIC cooking directions, a recipe qualifies as a fact. Facts can’t be copyrighted. If the recipe has a lot of commentary, then it might have enough “original intellectual work” to be copyrightable. This fact and more are in the resource guide she prepared for this session.

I realize I’m biased, but I think that Freya Anderson is an engaging, informative and pleasant speaker. If you’d like to bring in a non-lawyer expert on copyright, you should totally invite Freya to your conference.


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