Copyright, Fair Use, and Public Law 105-147,
the "No Electronic Theft" (NET) Act of 1997

AS-2408-98/AA - March 5-6, 1998

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University urge the Chancellor, presidents, and campus senates to inform each CSU faculty member regarding Public Law 105-147, the "No Electronic Theft" (NET) Act of 1997; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU urge that the process of informing faculty members about this law should provide an opportunity on each campus for the education of faculty members on copyright and fair use, and urge that this law not be an occasion for the creation of arbitrary restrictions on faculty members.

RATIONALE: Public Law 105-147 (attached), which took effect on January 1, 1998, establishes both new definitions for violation of copyright and severe criminal penalties, including possible imprisonment, for violations.

The key provisions of the new law make it a violation of copyright willfully to infringe a copyright "either (1) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or (2) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000" (emphasis added).

In 1995, the Joint Committee of the CSU, SUNY, and CUNY produced "Fair Use of Copyrighted Works: A Crucial Element in Educating America," a brief survey of copyright issues and guidelines. Most of this is as valid now as before the passage of Public Law 105-147. While the passage of this new law may provide a good opportunity for consideration of the question of copyright, the four principles used in determining fair use of copyrighted works (as contained in "Fair Use of Copyrighted Works") should provide the general context for an educational program aimed at CSU faculty members.


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