don't think it was coincidental that, during the month we were putting
this issue together, I had my own miniature legal dilemma. It began as
I was innocently reading the magazine section of the local Sunday newspaper.
It was one of those interesting yet disturbing articles about how pharmaceutical
salespeople pander to doctors, court them, and give them wonderful free
stuff. The stated intention of the salespeople is to deliver information,
of course, but the article was questioning how much this influenced the
doctors and their choices of prescription drugs, etc.
two-thirds of the way through the article, I came upon a passage that turned
on that little lightbulb that floats above my head. I realized that some
of this content would be great supporting material for apresentation that
I was scheduled to make to a group of SLA's pharmaceutical and health technology
librarians. "Great!" I thought to myself, "I'll photocopy this article
and add it to my handouts."
before I could even finish thinking that sentence to myself, another one
interrupted it: "What about copyright?"Conveniently, I was in the middle
of working on this issue of CIL, so I thought that I'd be able to
figure out whether I could use this article or not. No problem, right?
thought about the four-question test for fair use (which is outlined in
a couple of our feature articles). Would I be using the article for educational
purposes, or would it be used for profit? Is the work factual or fictional?
What portion of the work would be used? Finally, I had to consider the
effect that my usage would have on the market value of the article. I could
answer most of these questions, but I still wasn't crystal clear on exactly
what the fair use guidelines meant in my case.
there's the rub: You have to use guidelines to interpret what the law means
for every circumstance. It's not easy! Even though I had just read every
single article in this issue—some of them twice—I still was not totally
sure about how to proceed. So I've come to an even better understanding
of what many of you are going through every week!
this magazine obviously can't answer all your questions and can't give
you legal advice, it can at the very least do for you what it did for me—it
can tell you what questions to ask, give you the guidelines, and point
you to lots more resources. Building awareness of today's laws, illustrating
how they're changing, and telling you where to find the official details
are great services that this issue can provide.
case you're wondering how my own story ends, I haven't decided yet. I may
just photocopy that section of the article, or just extract a couple quotes
and cite them. Or I may call the magazine and ask for permission to use
the whole thing. Or I may just stand at the podium and say, "There was
this great article I read that said ..."
Kathy Dempsey, Editor