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.

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.

THATCamp Alabama

Hard to believe it’s been over two weeks since the first THATCamp Alabama. What a superb success that was! Thanks go to all of the planners from throughout the state and to all of the participants who made the time together productive.  And to our sponsors.

While the spirit remains high, I want to share that a number of us think this should become an annual event. The UA Libraries is prepared to continue to support this effort as an ongoing effort to promote DH work in Alabama.

Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Digital Humanities

Our Post-Doc position is now posted at http://facultyjobs.ua.edu/.  Please announce to the communities with which you are connected.  Thanks.  –Tom

The Alabama Digital Humanities Center at the University of Alabama (http://www.lib.ua.edu/digitalhumanities) is pleased to invite applications for a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in Digital Humanities. The Alabama Digital Humanities Center (ADHC) is a vibrant and dynamic community of over 50 faculty members and also a collaborative workspace created and maintained by the University Libraries. The post-doctoral fellow will hold a joint appointment in the University Libraries and the English Department in the College of Arts & Sciences. The fellowship offers the successful candidate support for independent research combined with the opportunity to play a leadership role in the expansion of the digital humanities community at the University of Alabama.

The successful candidate will begin the fellowship in August of 2013, with a 24-month appointment through the end of the 2014-15 academic year. The fellow will conduct his or her own research and work in conjunction with the ADHC staff to promote and develop the digital humanities community on campus. The fellow will deliver presentations on his or her research and on digital humanities topics more generally to University of Alabama faculty and will provide leadership in identifying, understanding, and evaluating emerging technologies based on their pedagogical, presentation, and research uses.

The committee welcomes all applicants with an active research agenda in English or a related discipline. The successful applicant will have attained a Ph.D. by June 2013 and will bring an active research project whose strong digital component could serve as a model for other faculty at the University of Alabama. The applicant should demonstrate an ability to engage broadly with digital humanities as an interdisciplinary community of scholars.

The University of Alabama is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

Candidates should consult the full position description posted at http://www.lib.ua.edu/digitalhumanities/post-doc and then apply at http://facultyjobs.ua.edu. Inquiries may be directed to Prof. Thomas C. Wilson, Search Committee Chair, tcwilson@ua.edu. Review of applications will begin July 22, 2013 and continue until the position is filled.

Franky is here!

Please join me in welcoming Franky Abbott to the University of Alabama.  She is our Post-Doctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities.  Her contact info is:

Phone:  348-0767

Email:  frabbott@ua.edu

Office:  Gorgas 105

Stop by or send a greeting!