Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I have had to think a lot more about the concept of ‘fair use’ since I started working in a public library. Librarians tend to be associated with a fairly liberal attitude toward copyright, which I always supposed in a vague way that I shared. However, I often come up against the following situation:

A kid wants me to print an image created by someone else (tween girls want photos of boy band members, little boys want Lego Ninjago and Dragonball Z images). This image belongs to a person or corporation who/which put resources into creating it. The kid doesn’t want to make money off of this person’s work, but getting the printout is a substitute for other manifestations of fandom that might actually involve purchasing something, for example buying a poster or a coloring book.

Do I help this kid  copy and paste the picture from Google Images into MS Paint and then print it? Is that the right thing to do?*

*It’s worth noting that our library models this behavior. All of our displays are illustrated with images from the internet, and I doubt they all come from Wikimedia commons.

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