Council adopts revisions to ‘Copyright: An Interpretation of the Code of Ethics’
For Immediate Release
Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)
American Library Association
At ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, ALA Council adopted revisions to “Copyright: An Interpretation of the Code of Ethics” a document first adopted in 2014.
The changes, proposed by the Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE), strengthened “Copyright: An Interpretation of the Code of Ethics” by adding legal citations; expanding the text to include definitions of important principles for “Fair Use” and “First Sale Doctrine”; and addressing digital licensing agreements. The interpretation has also been broadened to encompass all types of libraries and material formats.
In addition to presenting the revised interpretation to ALA Council for adoption, the Committee on Professional Ethics adopted significant revisions to two supplementary documents: “Ethics and Social Media Q&A” (published in 2013) and “Enforcement of the Code of Ethics Q&A” (published in 2009).
Social media has created unprecedented opportunities for information sharing and for community building and engagement; it has also raised numerous ethical concerns. “Ethics and Social Media Q&A” provides guidance in navigating ethical concerns that arise from using social media in a professional capacity. During the revision process, COPE took into account the “Social Media Guidelines for Public and Academic Libraries,” recently published by the Intellectual Freedom Committee, to avoid duplication and shift the focus of the “Ethics and Social Media Q&A” to how library workers use social media in a professional capacity.
In the “Enforcement of the Code of Ethics Q&A,” the committee updated language and links, and reformatted questions to allow for better comprehension and readability. The content and purpose behind the document has not changed: The ALA Code of Ethics offers guidelines for responsible behavior and sets forth a common basis for resolving ethical dilemmas encountered in daily practice. The Q&A explains why ALA as a voluntary membership organization, does not enforce the Code of Ethics and what organizations and individuals can do to help ensure that the values and the principles of the Code are upheld.
The ALA Code of Ethics and supplementary documents can be found on the ALA website.
About the ALA Committee on Professional Ethics
The ALA Committee on Professional Ethics, a committee of Council, augments the Code of Ethics by explanatory interpretations and additional statements, prepared by this committee or elicited from other units of ALA.
About the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights. Established in 1967, the office provides library resources on a range of intellectual freedom subjects. OIF supports the work of the Committee on Professional Ethics.