Copyright Basics for Faculty Members

Copyright Basics
Faculty Members as Authors and Copyright Holders

Copyright Basics

Copyright is comprised of six exclusive rights and includes protection for original literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictoral/graphic, audiovisual, architectural, and sound recording works, once they become "fixed in a tangible medium of expression."

  • the right of reproduction (copying)
  • the right to create derivative works (transform or repurpose, translate into a new language, distort or alter, transfer into a new medium of expression, etc.)
  • the right to distribution (how and to whom)
  • the right to performance (in public)
  • the right to display (in public)
  • the digital transmission performance right

Copyright law protects the first two rights in both private and public use, whereas a copyright holder can only restrict the last four rights when it comes to public use. Classroom use is public use and may violate one or more of these rights unless an exemption applies, or permission of the copyright holder has been obtained. While the six rights are exclusive to copyright holders, two types of exemptions are built into the copyright law: educational/research use and library use; these exempted uses are governed by the legal concept of fair use and are not clear-cut. The exemptions were designed for the "constitutional purpose of promoting science and the useful arts."

Legal Use in F2F or Online Classrooms
Items in the public domain or published as "open source/open access," within stated limitations, can be legally used in any classroom.

Material in the Public Domain
Anything in the public domain is free to be used, copied and distributed without attribution, permission, license, or royalty payment. A work may become part of the public domain due to expiration of the copyright term of protection, failure of the work to qualify for copyright protection, or dedication of the work to the public domain by the author.

Open Source/Open Access Material
In general, freely usable in the classroom, but may include some use restrictions. Whenever practical, let students access the material themselves.

If the material you want to use does not fall into one of the two categories above, you must determine whether a legal exemption applies to your use or obtain permission from the copyright holder.

Fair use exemptions for classroom use
Fair use is determined by four main factors and always on a case-by-case basis:

  • The purpose and character of the use--is it for non-profit educational use or a for-profit purpose
  • The nature of the copyrighted work--is the work dramatic, non-dramatic, "artistic" or commercial
  • The amount and substantiality of copying--is it more than 10% of the total work and does it constitute the main or most important part of the work
  • The market effect--will the use hurt the copyright holder's ability to derive income from sale of the item

You must satisfy all four factors in order for the use to be considered fair. Educational use, use of non-dramatic works comprising less than 10% of the work which does not constitute the "heart" of the work, and use that doesn't affect the sale of the item all favor fair use. An additional consideration includes "spontaneity:" was it a last minute decision to use the material, or was it planned in advance. Planned, repeated use of the same material is never deemed fair use and requires permission of the copyright holder.

Generally allowable uses in F2F classrooms (in all cases, the use must be integral to a class assignment)

  • Photocopy of a journal article or brief book excerpt--few pages of text, poem, chart, illustration, etc., distributed to students in a class
  • Films/documentaries on video/DVD purchased by the library, owned by you or rented from a local video store or online vendor are permissible unless prohibited by the vendor.
  • Streaming films with digital licensing purchased by the library; they can be shown in a smart classroom or assigned for individual viewing outside of class. They cannot be stored for future use.
  • Other material expressly licensed for or allowed for classroom use, e.g., documentaries or educational videos on Documentary YouTube, Documentary Google and other media sites.
  • Use of DVDs purchased with "course management system rights" or similar language which allows for uploading them into Blackboard. Check with Ellen Gardiner about server space. They cannot be downloaded and stored for future use.
  • Music or other audio material played in the classroom for the purpose of instruction.
  • Performance or display of a work for the purposes of instruction, parody, social commentary, news reporting, etc.
  • Material placed on reserve at the library's Circulation Desk.
  • Faculty of any discipline can compile brief video clips from motion pictures on DVD "solely to incorporate them into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment" when necessary for educational use. University film and media studies students may also include brief clips in "documentary filmmaking and noncommercial videos."
  • Faculty conference presentations and professional portfolios and student projects/portfolios may include a limited amount of copyrighted multimedia material. Online access must be restricted to the intended audience and password-controlled. Permission would need to be obtained for use exceeding these limits:
    • Video: up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less
    • Text material: up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less
    • Music, Lyrics, Music Videos: up to 10%, but no more than 30 seconds
    • Illustrations, Photographs: no more than 5 images from an artist/photographer, or no more than 10% or 15 works from a published collective work
    • Numerical Data Sets: up to 10% or 2500 fields, whichever is less

Reduce any possible fair use issues by providing students with a link, when a legal link is available, so they may access the material themselves. For journal articles or book excerpts, check the library's databases, including eBooks--let students obtain the material themselves. Providing a link to a web page in your syllabus or linking to a web page from your Blackboard course page is usually permissible, unless you see a statement prohibiting it or requesting permission beforehand.

Generally allowable uses in online classrooms (in all cases, the use must be integral to a class assignment)

  • Journal article or short book excerpt scanned as a file and delivered via Blackboard or email, if considered fair use. Repeated use of the same material in multiple semesters and/or multiple classes is never a fair use, unless permission is obtained each time. Additionally, files must be restricted to students in the class and password-protected to prevent unauthorized viewing.
    • Determine whether fair use applies by using ALA's Educational Exemptions eTool
    • Submit your material to Michele Wood to be placed on electronic reserve. The library uses Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) to secure permission and pay royalty fees for legal use; however, CCC does not have contracts with all publishers/copyright holders, so permission cannot always be obtained and many publishers/copyright holders simply will not give permission.
    • Get permission from the copyright holder yourself; copyright holder is frequently the publisher, not the author (see Seeking Permission, below.)
  • Streaming films with digital licensing purchased by the library can be shown in Mediasite classrooms or assigned for individual viewing outside of class. They cannot be stored for future use. If you cannot obtain a legal streaming film or documentary title, encourage students to check with their local libraries, video rental stores, or subscribe to a service such as Netflix or Red Box.
  • Other material expressly licensed for or allowed for online classroom use, such as educational videos or documentaries on Documentary YouTube, Documentary Google and other media sites.
  • Use of DVDs purchased with "course management system rights" or similar language which allows for uploading them into Blackboard. Check with Ellen Gardiner about server space. They cannot be downloaded and stored for future use.
  • Faculty of any discipline can compile brief video clips from motion pictures on DVD "solely to incorporate them into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment" when necessary for educational use. University film and media studies students may include brief clips in "documentary filmmaking and noncommercial videos."
  • Faculty conference presentations and professional portfolios and student projects/portfolios may include a limited amount of copyrighted multimedia material. Online access must be restricted to the intended audience and password-controlled. Permission would need to be obtained for use exceeding these limits:
    • Video: up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less
    • Text material: up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less
    • Music, Lyrics, Music Videos: up to 10%, but no more than 30 seconds
    • Illustrations, Photographs: no more than 5 images from an artist/photographer, or no more than 10% or 15 works from a published collective work
    • Numerical Data Sets, e.g., databases: up to 10% or 2500 fields, whichever is less

    Reduce any possible fair use issues by providing students with a link, when a legal link is available, so they may access the material themselves. For journal articles or book excerpts, check the library's databases, including eBooks--let students obtain the material themselves. Providing a link to a web page in your syllabus or linking to a web page from your Blackboard course page is usually permissible, unless you see a statement prohibiting it or requesting permission beforehand.

    Not allowable in any classroom

    • Unauthorized videotaping or copying of films, television shows, music, etc., and any illegally obtained video, DVD or CD for use in class.
    • Unauthorized downloading and storage of any material for classroom use.
    • Use of homemade "coursepacks," print or digital, assembled and/or distributed without copyright permission for each item and each use.
    • Changing the format of an item or its delivery/transmission method, unless the circumstance falls under fair use or you obtain permission of the copyright holder, e.g., converting a video to DVD, streaming a VHS video through Mediasite (unless it is a synchronous environment), or scanning an article or book excerpt to a pdf file and posting it on Blackboard or in an email.
    • Printing web pages and including them in "coursepacks" or handouts without permission, unless there is a statement on the web site that allows for such a use.
    • Circumventing a technological measure designed to protect access to a copyrighted work.

    Seeking permission

     

    Faculty Members as Authors and Copyright Holders
    As the author of a work, you are the copyright holder unless you transfer the copyright to someone else, such as a publisher, in a signed agreement.

    • When working with a publisher, you can negotiate a publication agreement. Most standard journal publishing agreements ask you to give away control of your copyright, thereby limiting the future use of your article. Under a standard agreement, you may not be able to post your work to your personal website, re-use sections in later works, archive your article, email your article to colleagues, or post your article to Blackboard for a class reading assignment.
      September 2012 update: as a result of the ruling on the copyright infringement case against Georgia State University, "...[f]aculty authors should anticipate scholarly publishers will increase the rigor with which editors require contracts signing and copyright transfer before publication..." (Decision Summary: Publishers v. Georgia State University, Syracuse University.)
    • Publishing via Open Access--place copies of material in Open Access repositories or publish in Open Access Journals. Open Access journals are published electronically and available freely. They follow the same publication process and peer-review system as traditional publishers (see citation impact info.)
      • NIH currently requests that NIH-funded researchers deposit a copy of research manuscripts into PubMed Central within twelve months of an article's publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

    Options for Self-publishing