What is copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.
Copyright notice contains three elements:
- the symbol © (the letter c in a circle) or the word "Copyright" or the abbreviation "Copr." for "visually perceptive copies; the symbol (the letter p in a circle) for sound recordings
- the year of the first publication
- the name of the owner of the copyright These three elements should appear together on the work in such a way as to "give reasonable notice of the claim of copyright."
NOTE: The absence of a copyright notice does not imply that a work is not copyrighted. A work is under copyright protection "the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device," according to the U.S. Copyright Office FAQs.
What works are protected?
Copyright works include the following:
- literary works
- musical works, including both words and music
- dramatic works, including accompanying music
- pantomimes and choreographic works
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- sound recordings
- architectural works
These categories have broad applications. For example, computer programs may be registered as "literary works."
What constitutes copyright infringement?
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of any of the exclusive rights of the copyright holder. Infringement can occur when any of the following are violated: right to reproduce the copyrighted work, right to prepare derivative works, right to distribute copies, and right to perform the copyrighted work publicly.
How long does copyright last?
The Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998 extended copyright protection for an additional 20 years. This act grants the following protections:
Works Created During or After 1978:
- Life of the author plus 70 years
- For joint works, 70 years after the last surviving author's death
- For works made-for-hire, 95 years from the year or first publication or 120 years from the year of creation, whichever expires first
Works Created But Not Published or Registered Before 1978:
- Life of the author plus 70, but in no case earlier than Dec. 31, 2002.
- If published before Dec. 31, 2002, the term will not expire before Dec. 31, 2047
For Pre-1978 Works Still in Their Original or Renewal Term, the term is extended to 95 years from the date copyright was originally secured.
What are the limitations to copyright?
Title 17 of the U.S. Code provides for certain rights to use copyrighted works, including the following:
- Section 107. Fair Use
- Section 108. Reproduction by libraries and archives
- Section 110 (1) and (2). Exemption of certain performances and displays
- Section 117. Computer programs
- Section 121. Reproduction for blind or other people with disabilities
How do I obtain copyright protection for my literary or creative work?
Registering a work with the Copyright Office does have some benefits. It informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and sets the date of first publication. In the event of infringement, the infringer will not be able to use the defense of innocent infringement, which may relieve him of actual or statutory damages.
The U.S. Copyright Office provides forms on their website to register works. The copyright owner may use the copyright notice without advance permission from or registration with the Copyright Office.
What is fair use?
Fair use is a limitation of copyright under Section 107 of the Copyright Law that allows reproduction of copyrighted works for the purpose of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.
What determines fair use?
The factors contributing to fair use must be considered individually and then weighed against one another to determine fair use. When deciding whether use of material qualifies for fair use, consider the following:
- the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
- the nature of the copyrighted work;
- the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
- the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. (Sec. 107)
Commercial use of a work weighs against fair use. If the purpose of copying is for criticism, news reporting, comment, teaching, research or scholarship, this weighs in favor of fair use. If access is limited to classroom or password protected, it weighs toward fair use. The law does not give specific guidelines. The less that is copied the heavier will be the weight given to fair use. If copying the work has an adverse effect on the market, this will weigh against fair use. If an original work could have been purchased, this will weigh against fair use.
Watch this short video introducing the concept of Fair Use.
What about photocopying?
These Classroom Guidelines on Photocopying are generally accepted for classroom copying in not-for-profit educational institutions with respect to books and periodicals. These guidelines state the minimum and not the maximum standards of educational fair use.
What about posting materials in Blackboard?
While Blackboard can limit access to course content, it does not absolve instructors or students from first obtaining permission to post copyrighted materials. In general, if you need to obtain permission to use the content in paper format, you probably need permission to use it in electronic format as well. The TEACH Act has expanded the scope of fair use for the performance and display of copyright-protected materials in a distance education environment, including Blackboard.
Instructors are strongly encouraged to use persistent hyperlinks to e-books or journal articles within library databases, which avoids copyright infringement. Please ask a librarian for assistance in building persistent hyperlinks to online resources.
What about using videos or movies in class?
Section 110 (1) of the Copyright Law enables teachers to perform or display a video or movie without a public performance license, so long as the use is 1) in a classroom or similar instruction space, 2) the use is part of a regularly scheduled course, and 3) the use must be exclusively by the instructor and the students in the classroom, in the course of face-to-face teaching activities.
If fair use criteria do not apply, how do I obtain permission to use copyrighted materials?
Permission to use copyrighted materials must be obtained if the criteria for fair use cannot be met. Permission must be obtained from the copyright holder.
The Copyright Office offers Circular 22: How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work to assist copyright research. The Copyright Clearance Center provides an extensive database and quick turnaround time for copyright permissions for photocopies, electronic postings, and republications.
From the IUPUI Copyright Management Center:
Showing or “performing” a motion picture at the university can be important for teaching and other university activities. In many situations, it is also perfectly appropriate under copyright law, but not all “public performances” are lawful. The law of copyright attempts to balance the interests of the public with the interests of authors in their creative works. The law gives copyright owners several exclusive rights, including the exclusive right to give public performances of their copyrighted works, but the law also permits some performances of these works by others as summarized below. These principles are generally true, whether the work is a feature film, an educational video, downloaded from the web, recorded off-air, or stored on VHS or DVD. Read more...
Regent University Library Policies
- Reserves Photocopying Policies
- Electronic Reserves Policies
- Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Policies
Regent University Policies
"Academic freedom at Regent University is framed by the context of the university's mission statement and statement of faith and is consistent with the standards and norms stated in the academic freedom policy. Faculty are free to pursue truth within their discipline by research, discussion and other forms of inquiry. This freedom carries a responsibility to truth, to scholarly integrity and to one's students."
-- Regent University Faculty and Academic Policy Handbook
Other Copyright Resources
- The Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance (Copyright Clearance Center)
- Copyright and Licensing for Public Performance (Indiana University guide)
- U.S. Copyright Office