Mr. Galvin defined the fair use doctrine as a provision which permits limited copying of copyrighted materials for private use without the permission of the copyright holder. Under copyright law, "fair use" is allowable for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. When Congress codified the principle of fair use for the first time, in the 1976 Copyright Act, the Act specified four factors to be considered in deciding whether or not a use is fair:
Mr. Galvin next focused on the scholarly journal as a dominant communication device in the academic disciplines. As universities have placed more and more emphasis on scholarly research as a determinant of tenure and promotion, and as the volume of the world's knowledge has increased, the number of journals has grown exponentially, creating collection and acquisition problems for libraries, and for large research libraries in particular. At the same time, control of scholarly journals has, in many instances, moved from non-profit universities and scholarly societies to commercial for-profit publishers. In this situation, an adversarial relationship is often created between research libraries with limited budgets and broad information needs, and publishers whose subscription fees are rising in response to a shrinking market.
Computers and telecommunications technologies could solve many of the information dissemination problems created by slow and expensive paper-bound journal production. Networked systems such as NREN, the National Research and Education Network, can create large information-sharing consortia, but with this change in the scholarly communications process comes concern about proprietary rights for copyright holders. As pointed out by Mr. Galvin, it is within the reach of our current technology to create a digital library where the world's total information resources can be made accessible from any individual's desktop work station. However, this fundamental change in the character of the scholarly communications process has economic implications for information proprietors.
Although some journals are already published electronically, and others will soon be available in dual format (print and on-line); not all scholarly journals are expected to move immediately to an electronic format. History has shown that new technologies commonly supplement existing technologies, rather than totally replace them, and dual formats may be the rule in the future, although it is hard to predict how fast the transition to the electronic format will take place.
Mr. Galvin closed his presentation with policy considerations about the relevancy of the fair doctrine in the networked electronic journal dissemination environment. To stimulate thought and discussion along these lines, he suggested participants consider four proposals to test for "fair use" durability, relevance and value: