Fair Use Week (February 22-26, 2016)

This is a week to celebrate a key right we have in the use of copyrighted materials for scholarship, teaching, and learning. One way to celebrate is to understand what is allowable and then vigorously exercise that right. Fair use is one of the major limitations given in Title 17 of the United States Code on a copyright holder’s exclusive rights granted by the law.*


The United States Copyright Office states:

Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.  (http://copyright.gov/fair-use/more-info.html, accessed 2/15/2016)

A key phrase in this statement is “unlicensed use.” This means that, if a particular use of copyrighted material qualifies as fair use, no license, contract, agreement, third-party mediator, or subscription is necessary to legally use the material for the identified purpose. One does not have to contact the author or publisher, pay usage fees, or seek permission. If it is fair use, it is fair use!


The United States Code also identifies the methods to be applied in determining whether or not a particular use of copyrighted material constitutes fair use. Title 17, Section 107 identifies the following four factors for this process:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

It is important to understand that this is not a formula, but rather a process of weighing the nature of the use and its impact on the original work. When courts consider specific arguments for fair use, all four factors are considered, as well as other circumstantial, factual information related to the case.


While there are not hard and fast rules that determine fair use, there is great leeway in the types of use that are, in fact, legal. The links below provide some useful commentary on navigating the fair use factors.


All non-commercial use is fair use. The non-commercial use of copyrighted material is not necessarily fair use; all of the four factors must be weighed.

Making multiple copies for classroom use is illegal. Again, this is not necessarily so. This would likely be a non-commercial use in support of teaching; however, the other three factors would need to be considered in the review: the nature of the original work, how much and which parts are reproduced, and the impact the duplication has on the potential market for the work.

Go forth, and exercise your right to fair use! And remember, it is always appropriate to attribute and cite the original work.


* Nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice.

Color Dilemma

We just held a workshop on Adobe Photoshop the other day and discussed colors, capture and display devices, and the potential problems in the beginning of the session. Seeing that the internet is a little confused about the color of a dress, here’s my answer to that problem: the dress is blue and black. Continue reading

Visiting Speaker: Robert Allen on Digital Loray

Sponsored by the Summersell Center and the Libraries

Digital LorayRobert Allen’s talk is a report on “Digital Loray,” a digital public humanities “project in process” being undertaken by the UNC Digital Innovation Lab.  “Digital Loray” is a multi-media digital collection of materials reflecting the history of one of the largest and most iconic textile mills in the South, the Loray Mill in Gastonia, N.C., the tens of thousands of people who worked in the mill over its 90-year history as an operating textile manufacturing facility, and the community of which the mill has been and continues to be a part.  The long and rich history of the mill includes the Loray Mill Strike in 1929.  The 600,000 square foot site is being restored and repurposed as apartments and retail and commercial space.  “Digital Loray” is designed as an online historical and community resource, and as source material for on-site programming and activities.

Continue reading

A Practical Use of the 3D Printer

Preview of the model

A see-through version of the tripod mount.

Although we have a lot going on in the ADHC, sometimes it’s faster to build from scratch. Armed with Autodesk’s 3D Studio Max and a 3D Printer, I created this tripod mount for our webcam after a few challenging videoconferencing sessions trying to prop up the camera. Continue reading

UA’s Digital Humanities Conference: Announcing Digitorium!

Update! We are very happy with the responses to our CFP, but have had requests to allow some additional time for submissions. We are delighted to do so, and have extended the deadline to Monday 2nd February 2015. Please share this with your colleagues!

Event:                   Digitorium Digital Humanities Conference

When:                  Thursday 9th April – Saturday 11th April 2015

Where:                 University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

We are delighted to announce that in April 2015, we will be hosting Digitorium, the inaugural Digital Humanities conference at the University of Alabama. Digitorium is being made possible through the generous support of the University Libraries and the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies in the Department of English, and we hope to welcome as many of you as possible to participate and attend. We seek proposals on Digital Humanities work from researchers, practitioners, and graduate students which showcase innovative ways in which digital methods have brought scholarship and scholarly communities to life, whether locally or globally. Our plenary speakers Professor Elizabeth Maddock Dillon (Northeastern University) and Professor David Lee Miller (University of South Carolina) will anchor our program of events, reflecting our main focus on digital methods and the communities which these can forge, as well as our subject-specific interests in American studies and Early Modern studies. We especially welcome proposals which discuss the use of digital methods and their novel results for research, pedagogy, and public scholarship.

On Thursday 9th April 2015 we will host a pre-conference day-long series of hands-on workshops, whilst the main conference, including plenary speakers, panels, poster and digital exhibit sessions, will take place on Friday 10th April and Saturday 11th April 2015.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is 2 February 2015. For full details, and the official Call For Papers, please visit our conference website:


Upcoming Events

The ADHC in September is sponsoring the following events:

  • Workshop: Adobe Photoshop
    • Presentor: Lindley Shedd
    • Location: ADHC
    • Topics for the ADHC Photoshop Workshop include working with multiple documents and navigating the program, understanding file types and resolution, working with layers, cropping and transformations, selection tools and how to use them most effectively, working with type, layer effects, adjustment layers and saving and exporting different file types. The demo portion of this workshop will last less than an hour, leaving time for participants to work with the program in a set of provided sample files. Registration Required, limited to 12, contact Tom Wilson (tcwilson@ua.edu) to register.
  • Speaker: Seth Kotch
    • Location: TBA
    • Dr. Kotch is a historian of the American South who specializes in crime and punishment. He has worked for the Southern Oral History Program since arriving at the University of North Carolina in 2003. He worked on the Oral Histories of the American South project, a digitization effort in partnership with Documenting the American South, and currently works on the Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement project with a number of partners around the university. He led planning for the SOHP’s Spring 2009 conference, The Long Civil Rights Movement: Histories, Politics, Memories, and serves as PI on the Civil Rights History Project, funded by the Smithsonian, and Media and the Movement, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This talk is sponsored by the Summersell Center for the Study of the South and the University of Alabama Libraries’ Alabama Digital Humanities Center.