Fair(ish) Use:

I come across issues with fair use pretty much weekly in my job as a librarian. It’s interesting – I definitely did spend a fair amount of time learning about fair use in library school, but that doesn’t make me a legal expert on copyright and fair use. People tend to come to us librarians at my job to ask how much they can reproduce or share articles for classes and such. Often, I can provide some slight guidance (provide the link to the article, not the article, etc.), but there are numerous times where I’ll have to refer people to our legal experts. It’s weird – the idea of citing fair use in non-explicitly educational situations. During school I can recall tons of times sharing rticles and using copyrighted material, but take it out of the school context and the lines get a little blurry. Educating people in a government agency doesn’t seem to fly so well for fair use (not ALWAYS the case, but I’ve seen a fair few), even when in a traditional classroom sense. 

I got pretty stuck on the context piece of fair use when thinking about this assignment. When I got to thinking about my interests, I was thinking about art history, but then also coaching socer. For coaching, I draw on the works of others often. Coaches share drills and even practice plans; my league’s coaching director sends out weekly practice plans from a database our association subscribes to (Confident Coach) to all the coaches and often I’ll pass those on to the parents of my team so they can work on some of the skills with their daughters. Wouldn’ those practice plans technically be copyrighted material? I’m sharing them in a somewhat educational sense, but those plans are pretty much unpublished, creative works, used in their entirety, and used long-term as they go into my coaching folder and I’ll often go back through them and re-use them later. While it’s not a traditional educational topic, I thought it an interesting exploration and also something I may want to be aware of, so here’s a little lesson on coaching 7 year old girls soccer while making fair use of copyrighted materials.

To give you an idea of how to go about coaching the ever-fun age of 7 year old girls, I will be giving you a package of information. This includes a copy of the ASA rules, various articles about coaching mentalities and coaching youth soccer, links to YouTube videos to demonstrate some drills, and a few practice plans to help get you started. Here are the links to everything listed previously:

First off, I included all of the items of my package as links to the originals, rather than printing them out or copying them to my site. By sending you back to the original, I’m lessening the issue of copyright for myself. Secondly, all of these links are available on the web to the public and for free. That doesn’t mean they aren’t copyrighted however, and I’m interested in looking at how using them all (and sharing them with my fellow coaches and parents of my team could fall within fair use by sheer nature of purpose. So let’s look at how my links/documents comply with the Four Factors of fair use. 

I’m not transforming the original document in any manner (true of all of my documents in the packet), so it’s hard to claim transformative use here. Nor am I restricting use of the materials to a specific group, nor using it for research or scholarship, or parody. However, I’m also not profiting from sharing these materials, or using them commercially, or denying the authors credit. Most importantly (in my mind), is that I’m using them to teach. Whether I’m teaching my girls by using the materials or teaching my parents about soccer or teaching fellow coaches how to effectively coach, I like to think that I’m using them in an educational sense.

The second factor regards the nature of the works in question. I am using all published material, that much is clear. However, I got a little stuck thinking about the creative aspects. Some of the materials clearly aren’t that creative (rules, and the videos of drills being run), but I’m a little stumped about the practice plans. Those are highly creative! Each coach can run them differently, and the plans sent out by our coaching director are the results of one specific person’s creative mind.   I do think they still fall under fair use because they again are being used to meet educational objectives (skills acquired) and the practice plans, while creative, are also factual ( if you can say that soccer drills are factual or not). 

The third factor addresses the amount of the copyrighted material being used. I’m using everything in full, as previously stated, rather than taking bits and pieces. My usage pretty much defies fair use here. However, to try and make up for some of that, I did make sure to choose YouTube videos of drills that fall under Creative Commons licensing, which I can share in full legally (especially for educational purposes). 

The fourth factor is about the effect of the use of copyrighted work on the potential market. This is interesting because I think that coaching has seen a real change in sharing drills and methods and such with the advent of technologies. I remember when my dad was coaching he depended pretty heavily on coaching books with drills and such to plan practices. Now I depend more on the web to find new and interesting drills and see what other coaches have come up with. In this regard, I don’t think that sharing all of these drills and videos and such on the web are really affecting the market because I don’t know many coaches that would go out and buy a book or pay for access to these in any other way. Also, I did acquire all of these in a lawful way (particularly the practice plans) and I’m not sharing them to a broader group by posting them to the web or what have you. One potential issue here is that they are being used in the long-term as I already mentioned since I save and reuse a lot of the same material. 

Overall, this was a pretty interesting exploration. I think I’m okay to be using these coaching materials through fair use (when it applies), but I’d be curious to see if there were valid counter-arguments. I’ve never heard of anyone suing over using coaching materials or anything of that nature, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t or couldn’t happen. Maybe I’m totally off-base trying to apply fair use here when it’s not directly educational either. Blurry lines everywhere!  

2 thoughts on “Fair(ish) Use:

  1. I share your frustrations when it comes to the blurriness of copyright. It’s hard for me to just accept something so vague as fair use, but at the same time I understand that leaving interpretation open = flexibility. What really bugs me is the idea that every single original work produced is automatically protected under copyright. I wonder how many people actually realize this and actually feel the need to enforce their right.

    As far as soccer is concerned, I wonder how many “original” drills there are and what constitutes the difference between original and common knowledge. For example, in volleyball (my sport of choice) the most basic and common ball control drill is called peppering. Perhaps it isn’t the drills themselves that serve to be protected, but the diagrams of them? Otherwise, who is to stop someone from watching a practice or a game to recreate the movements they’ve seen? If anything, I feel like the one thing that people would get pretty upset if they were shared is team strategy for actual games….but even that I assume wouldn’t come into play until a much higher level of play.

    All in all, I think what you did here with sharing the links is totally under Fair Use. You also did a good job justifying why that is.

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