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Copyright basics: Another layer of rules for scholars

copyrightIn a recent TAA webinar, Stephen E. Gillen, a lawyer with more than 40 years of experience in and around the publishing business, and author of the book, Guide to Rights Clearance and Permissions in Scholarly, Educational, and Trade Publishing, shared critical information about copyright law, rights clearance, and permissions.

During the session, Gillen introduced an additional layer of rules for scholars, specifically focused on academic integrity. He shared that “plagiarism is a concern, although it is not the same as copyright infringement.” Instead, plagiarism is directly related to attribution and the academic responsibility of not passing off someone else’s work as your own.

Gillen said that while “credit alone is sufficient for academic integrity, it’s not going to be sufficient for issues of copyright infringement claims.” On the contrary, “fair use may get you off the hook for a copyright infringement claim but will not get you off the hook for a claim that you have compromised your academic integrity, if that’s the issue.”

As academic authors, we are therefore responsible for both adherence to copyright law and to maintaining attribution appropriate for academic integrity purposes. Gillen noted that academic integrity not only protects the expression, but also the underlying ideas.

Although expectations are different across disciplines, Gillen stated that “authorship for copyright purposes is not the same as authorship for the purposes of scholarship.” For scholarship-related authorship, one must generally have contributed to the research process, whereas being part of the research, but not the writing, is not sufficient for authorship for the purpose of copyright.

For more information on how copyright impacts you as a scholar, you can watch the entire “What You Need to Know About Rights Clearance and Permissions” webinar in TAA’s Presentations on Demand library or get a copy of Gillen’s latest book in the TAA Store.