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CAA’s Fair Use Code Receives Important New Endorsements

posted by Christopher Howard — Jul 13, 2015

Only months after its release, major visual arts organizations continue to endorse CAA’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) each voted in April to endorse CAA’s set of principles regarding best practices in the fair use of copyrighted materials. In June, the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) and Association of Research Libraries (ARL) also voted to endorse.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes, and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by vocation or avocation, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national, and international programs.

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association, is the higher education association for librarians, committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship. Founded in 1940 and representing nearly 11,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL is dedicated to enhancing the ability of academic library and information professionals to serve the information needs of the higher education community and to improve learning, teaching, and research. As Mary Ellen K. Davis, executive director of ACRL, stated: “The Code will serve as a valuable open-access resource for our higher education stakeholders.” Both organizations are disseminating the Code to their members.

The mission of the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) is to foster excellence in art and design librarianship and image management. Founded in 1972, it has a membership of 1,000 that includes architecture and art librarians, visual resources professionals, artists, curators, educators, publishers, students, and others throughout North America interested in visual arts information. In a written statement, the ARLIS board wrote, “The ARLIS/NA Executive Board endorses the College Art Association’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts, an important document that will advance visual arts scholarship and creative practice in this digital age. The Code is a strong step away from a permissions culture that hinders many members of the larger community.”

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of the leading research libraries in the US and Canada. Comprising more than 125 libraries at comprehensive, research-intensive institutions, its mission is to shape and influence forces affecting the future of research libraries in the process of scholarly communication. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations.[3]

Groups that previously have endorsed the Code include the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) and the American Library Association (ALA).

These endorsements come in addition to early support for the Code from the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), both of which have recommended it to their members. In a letter to CAA, Susan Taylor, president of AAMD, and Christine Anagnos, its executive director, wrote: “AAMD believes the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts is an excellent contribution to the field and a great point of departure for best practices in the fair use of copyrighted materials…. AAMD believes this document has the potential to be a valuable aid to all professionals in the visual arts and will recommend it to our membership.”

CAA welcomes other endorsements, and encourages organizations in the field to recommend the Code to members.  CAA representatives are happy to address questions and to make educational presentations. To make arrangements for a presentation, whether by webinar, conference call, or in person, please contact me at The Code and supporting materials are available at

The creation of CAA’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.