Selecting North Carolina Materials to Celebrate the Public Domain Expansion

Note: Lauren Geiger, a 2019 graduate of UNC’s School of Information and Library Science, was a field experience student in the Scholarly Communications Office during the 2018/19 school year. In this blog post, she describes her work with selecting materials from the North Carolina Collection that were published in 1923 and were suitable for digitization. The full list of materials that we digitized is available here.  For her master’s paper, To Bot or Not to Bot, Lauren went on to analyze the use of those materials in the first few months they were online.  

This wasn’t my first digitization project, but it certainly has become one my most important. Selecting and preparing materials to be digitized for the 1923 Public Domain expansion was an amazing experience, because my previous digitization efforts started after these initial steps. I was in unknown territory and loving every minute of it.

Thankfully, I was not alone in this effort. My supervisor, Anne Gilliland, and the special collections librarian, Sarah Carrier, guided me by setting the scope of the project. I was to select materials from the North Carolina Collection that were published in 1923 and fell within 8 categories:

• Education
• African Americans
• The University of North Carolina
• Public Health
• World War I
• Women
• Agriculture
• Chapel Hill

With my goal set, I started to go through the library catalog and selecting materials that fell into one of the categories. Now, this was not a simple, one-time process, because not all of the material I selected on my first pass could be scanned. If a book was taller than 16 inches or wider than 10 inches, it wouldn’t fit into the scanner. The materials also had be in good condition (not falling apart or having a torn spine), be able to open beyond 90 degrees, and they had to be four pages or longer. My initial collection of 130 odd materials was whittled down to about 20 after 45 minutes of review. With a newfound understanding of the specifications for digitization, I began to go through each of the 625 from the North Carolina Collection that were from 1923.

Each batch of materials brought new excitement as I envisioned what research could be done with them. However, over half of the time, disappointment replaced the excitement as I realized a certain piece was not fit to be scanned. I knew that researchers could still come and look at the material, but being able to put it online would have given the item a larger audience. This is one of the main purposes of digitization, to allow  people to see unusual or unique items and do with them what they will. (Since these materials went into the public domain as of January 1, 2019, people can do whatever they like with them! There is no copyright to restrict their creativity and thoughts.)

Out of the 625 items I identified initially, I was only able to prep 96 for digitization. These 96 items covered all but one of the categories (World War I), and then some. This sample is a good snapshot of the North Carolina Collection’s wealth of information because they cover everything from summer camps for children to parole in North Carolina to soil surveys.

My time in the North Carolina Collection was short, but I thoroughly enjoyed working the materials and everyone in the reading room.

Fair Use Mini-Making Celebration

UNC-Chapel Hill
Undergraduate Library Lobby 
Tuesday, February 26, Noon- 2 pm

Celebrate Fair Use Week by making your own buttons and origami kaleidocycle flextangles at the Undergraduate Library.

Fair Use describes opportunities to use someone else’s content for your own purposes—like for parody or for further exploration.

Make buttons with modified popular images (like the Obama “Hope” poster) and flextangles (as seen in A Wrinkle in Time) to help you through the fair use thought process.

No button-making or origami experience required! Free and open to all!
** Buttons are for students**
Contact Jennifer Solomon,, with any questions!

Grateful for Fair Use: Combining Text and Images

This week, we’ll look at fair use cases and learn about their effect on and meaning for the work that we do. Read more posts in our series about Fair Use Week 2018.

Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley is a 2006 case about the transformative fair use of Grateful Dead concert posters. Publisher Dorling Kindersley used thumbnail images of seven posters to illustrate a timeline about the band’s history. Although many university faculty members and students are initially startled when I talk about Grateful Dead posters, I have found that this case is useful in discussing a variety of situations in which researchers combine text and images. Continue reading “Grateful for Fair Use: Combining Text and Images”

What Does It Mean to Be Transformative?

This week, we’ll look at fair use cases and learn about their effect on and meaning for the work that we do. Read the first post in our series about Fair Use Week 2018.

A music publisher, a rap artist, an irreverent parody, and a lawsuit—what do all of these have to do with how we use fair use in a university environment?

Watch! Parody and Fair Use: Campbell v. Acuff Rose

Quite a bit, as it turns out. In the last few decades, the concept of transformational fair use ties into the first factor of a fair use analysis—the purpose and character of the use. Judge Pierre Leval’s 1990 commentary, “Toward a Fair Use Standard” in the Harvard Law Review, first laid out the case for transformative fair use. Leval argued that the analysis of the first factor should turn on “whether, and to what extent, the challenged use is transformative” (p.1111). Continue reading “What Does It Mean to Be Transformative?”

Fair Use Week 2018: Creation and Communication in the Academy

Today, February 26, marks the beginning of Fair Use Week 2018; a time for us to celebrate and talk about one of the most useful, flexible, and maddening doctrines in copyright law. This week, we’ll look at four fair use cases and learn about their effect on and meaning for the work that we do.

Fair use is not unique internationally, but it is most well-developed in the U.S., in part because of our need to harmonize the rights of copyright and the rights of the First Amendment. In many ways, fair use is a creature of the law of equity—the law of common sense and fairness. At the same time, its flexibility can sometimes make it opaque to the person who first encounters it. Nevertheless, most of us in the academy, whether we know it or not, use fair use all the time as we write, teach, research, and create. Continue reading “Fair Use Week 2018: Creation and Communication in the Academy”

The Territory that GIS Librarians Cover

Some may not realize that maps fall under the same copyright protection as other fixed works, such as books and films. While the factual information provided in a map is available for everyone to use, the exact expression in which it is represented cannot be. An original and fixed expression of factual information is fully protected under copyright law. The names of countries and cities, their shape and coordinates are all facts that can be used by whomever, however, the colors used, the font, the way the map has been artistically represented and expressed receives copyright protection. Therefore in order to make an exact reproduction a map, the copyright owner must be contacted and permission must be granted.

A more in-depth type of mapping that is becoming more important in University, library, and other settings is Geospatial Information System mapping. GIS involves storing and visualizing geospatial data, and GIS librarians help with the software that stores and manages this data and assist with other related research and technology in this area.

UNC has two GIS librarians on campus that help provide expertise on these GIS services to students and faculty needing to learn more. They are available in the Davis Library Research Hub on the second floor and offer both walk-in and scheduled appointments. Some specific areas they offer assistance in include mapping (of course), using Liquid Galaxy and statistical software, data management and visualization, and digital exhibits and humanities.

Some people may not realize that they have actually already used GIS mapping many times in their daily life, through Google Maps. Copyright protection for Google’s maps and geospatial data applies equally here, but Google typically relies on the contractual agreement laid out in their website use policy in order to safe-guard against infringement and restrict the boundaries of use. Additional guidelines allow for the use of Google Maps and imagery so long as their Terms of Service are being followed, proper attribution is given, and they are being used for a non-commercial purpose. However, if you’d like to use Google Maps, Google Earth or Street View for a commercial purpose you can contact the Google Maps for Work sales team.

All’s “Fair” in Love and YouTube

Google recently announced that they will offer legal support to protect certain parties who are clearly following fair use rules when uploading content to YouTube. They specifically stated, “[t]hrough this initiative, YouTube indemnifies creators whose fair use videos have been subject to takedown notices for up to $1 million of legal costs in the event the takedown results in a lawsuit for copyright infringement.”

YouTube’s website lays out the four factors of fair use which must always be taken into consideration when uploading a video which contains any kind of material copyrighted by someone else. The website also has a policy in place for video uploaders who use copyrighted content, but do not meet the standards of fair use. If the copyright owner discovers that their protected content is being used in a video not authorized by them, the uploader of that video receives something called a Content ID. After this, the copyright owner gets to decide the next step. They can exchange use of the copyrighted content for displaying ads during the video, or they could completely block the video from being seen, mute the copyrighted material, or restrict the video to certain platforms. If a video is removed due to the rights holder sending a complete legal request to do so, then the uploader of that video receives a copyright strike on their account. Three of these strikes and you’re out, your account will be terminated.

The new fair use defense policy would not apply in situations such as this, because Content IDs and copyright strikes on YouTube accounts only occur when the use of the work is not determined to be fair. The policy will offer “legal support to a handful of videos that [YouTube] believe[s] represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA takedowns. With approval of the video creators, we’ll keep the videos live on YouTube in the U.S., feature them in the YouTube Copyright Center as strong examples of fair use, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them.”

Lawsuits can become exorbitantly expensive, especially when up against a large company or corporation with deep pockets that owns a lot of intellectual property and aggressively protects it. So this new policy should be a great incentive for video uploaders to be more careful when selecting what content to use and how to fairly use it.

New TPP Provisions Rubbing IP the Wrong Way

There has been a lot of discussion about the Trans Pacific Partnership, previously due to its content being privately written and decided on. (See previous blog written about those issues.) However, now that the content of this agreement has been made available to the public there are now more specific arguments and discussions being held on its chapters and the legal areas it covers.

Chapter 18 is the section that pertains to Intellectual Property. The chapter summary at the beginning of this section states that this part of the agreement was intended to “help Americans take full advantage of our country’s innovative strengths and help to promote trade and innovation, as well as to advance scientific, technological and creative exchange throughout the region.” However, the actual provisions focus more on protecting the IP rights holders and preventing infringement at all costs, rather than focusing on promoting innovation and exchanging ideas.

Intellectual property laws are intended to balance the incentive for authors and inventors to create new and original works with the ability for others to access these works and comment, critique and build off of them. With stricter punishments and different procedures than normal U.S. intellectual property laws, especially for copyrighted works and patented inventions, this would suggest that innovation would be stifled. If creators are confused about the new regulations under this document they may be more hesitant to invent and create works in order to avoid accidentally violating the new regulations.

However, these regulations could have been worse. Originally the U.S. pushed for some very severe punishments for infringement. Even though most of those have been excluded, the current provisions are still not perfect. Many are concerned that conforming U.S. intellectual property laws to this agreement’s standards will restrict its ability to adapt to future needs and bind Congress’ hands in making IP legislation, especially in the midst of a booming and rapidly changing technology era. If the IP needs of the U.S. end up requiring a deviation from the protocols and regulations laid out in the TPP, it will be interesting to see if the agreement is upheld at the expense of the sustaining these needs or if the provisions will need to be revisited or even abandoned.

The Copyright #Tarpit of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

When I saw that today’s #TarGramChallenge theme was #tarpit, I knew what I wanted to write about–pre-1972 sound recordings, one of the tar pits par excellence of copyright law.  Copyrights in sound recordings from that time period are not covered by Federal law, and instead they are covered by a patchwork of state laws.  Many of these laws are aimed at preventing bootlegging and misappropriation, and they were never intended to deal with the full range of issues that we find in music copyright today,

What does this mean for us here at the UNC Scholarly Communications Office?  The Libraries deal with a wide range of sound recordings from all periods, not only from the Music Library but also from the Southern Folklife Collection and other special collections.  Recently, we made a study of North Carolina law for sound recordings, so that we can get more clarity on how and when we can digitize these recordings legally.

Since then, UNC received a large grant from the Mellon Foundation to digitize and preserve historic audio and moving image collections.  The work we have done in researching North Carolina copyright law for pre-1972 sound recordings will be invaluable as we plan this proess.






Are you dancing today for #TarHeelToneUp for the #TarGramChallenge?

Once you start getting into copyright law, you realize that copyright law is everywhere. We have even seen it in dance. Anne Gilliland dances English Country Dances, and when I was younger, I took ballroom and swing dancing classes at my alma mater. We often don’t think of dance as involving copyright.  Today is Tar Heel tone Up, and maybe you’re doing “Cardio Funk,” “Zumba,” Z2” or “Ballet Sculpt.” Maybe you’re going to go to a dance night or dance around in your room. Did you know that dance may have a copyright interest like your novel or song? The dance moves may have a copyright interest as you’re stretching out or toning up.

To qualify for copyright protection you have to “fix the work in a tangible form of expression.” More simply put, according to the Copyright Office, your choreography, “. . . can be embodied in a film or video recording or be precisely described on a phonorecord, in written text, or in a dance notation system such as Labanotation, Sutton Movement Shorthand, or Benesh Notation.” The Dance Heritage Coalition has even produced a “Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Dance-Related Materials” if you want to review some information before coming and talking to us in the Scholarly Communications Office.

Check out the fitness classes over at the rec and dance away. If you’re developing your own dance class, dance, or want to perform someone else’s dance, come over to the Scholarly Communications Office and talk to us! We can’t advise you on the dance, and we might be able to dance poorly, but we can definitely advise you on how to protect your work or give it away for free.