Copyright Law: Frequently Asked Questions
What works have copyright protection?
Copyrights protect “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and intellectual works, from infringement and unauthorized reproduction.
What is the duration of copyright protection?
Any works published on or before December 31, 1922, are now in the public domain. Works published between January 1, 1923 and December 31, 1978, are protected for a term of 95 years from the date of publication, with a proper copyright notice on the work. One important note: if the work was published between 1923 and December 31, 1963, it may be in the public domain if the copyright owner did not renew the copyright after an original term of protection which lasted only 28 years.
Works created before December 31, 1978, but not published are protected until either December 31, 2002 or the length of time from when the author dies plus 70 years, whichever amount of time is longer.
Works created after 1978, published or unpublished, are protected for 70 years from the date the author dies.
Can I photocopy copyrighted materials and include them in coursepacks for my students?
A portion of copyright law, “fair use,” does authorize teachers to photocopy and use copyrighted works for educational purposes without paying royalties to the author or securing permission. For one-time distribution in class to students, a teacher may make, or have made multiple copies if he or she:
- makes no more than one for each student in a course;
- does not make copies for students who are not in his or her own classes;
- includes the notice of copyright by writing it on the first sheet or copying the page on which it appears;
- is selective and sparing in choosing poetry, prose, and illustrations;
- does not use copies to create or substitute for anthologies or collective works;
- copies pursuant to their own initiative, and not according to the plan of a supervisor or administrator;
- makes no charge to students beyond the actual cost of photocopying.
Limit coursepack materials to: single chapters, single articles from a journal, several charts, graphs or illustrations, or other similarly small parts of work. You should also include any copyright notice on the original and any appropriate citations and attributions to the source.
Copying shall not be used to create or to replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations, or collective works. Such replacements or substitution may occur where copies of various works or excerpts therefrom are accumulated or reproduced and used separately. Furthermore, copying shall not be a substitution for the purchase of books, publishers’ reprints, or periodicals nor shall copying be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term. If a teacher plans on using the materials for more than one semester then he or she should obtain permission from the copyright holder.
Can I use materials I found on an Internet website in class, without obtaining permission for the use?
Internet pages are copyrighted. The same guidelines apply to internet work that apply to printed materials. The “fair use” exception is applicable, but the same “fair use” analysis must be done to determine whether the fair use exception actually applies to the particular situation.
If I have purchased a software program can I make a copy of it?
Assume all software is copyright protected. The only source for permission to copy copyrighted software is either a specific grant of that right in a license agreement or the express or implied (with regard to freeware) permission of the copyright owner. Making copies of copyrighted materials is one of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner. When you purchase a software program you purchase the right to that single copy of the program, not unlimited reproduction/copying of the program.
May I make a copy of software licensed to the University and take it home in order to do University work on my home computer?
Copying of licensed software to do work for the licensee may be expressly authorized in the license agreement, but is otherwise not permitted. Even under “site” licensing, the owner licenses the user to use the software on any computer at the site and the use of the software off the site is not generally permitted.
Can I use copyrighted materials in a multimedia presentation to students?
Under the “fair use” exemption, students, faculty and staff may incorporate others’ work into a multimedia work or display and perform a multimedia work as long as it is in connection with classroom related activities. However, only small amounts of other works should be used and very limited copies of the multimedia work should be made, if any.
Do I need to obtain copyright permission for using copyrighted photographs or music clips as part of a powerpoint presentation in class?
An instructor using the clips as part of classroom use does not need permission, because it constitutes fair use under Section 108 of theU.S. Copyright Law.
Can I photocopy chapters from a textbook and provide students with a PDF link, to save students money?
No. This would not qualify under the fair use exception because the market for the work would be directly affected by copying and distributing without financial compensation to the copyright owner. An alternative would be to place a textbook on reserve in the library.
Can I use video clips as part of classroom instruction?
Use of audiovisual materials such as video clips are usually ok because they would qualify under “fair use” if used in the classroom. However, fair use requires a case-by-case analysis of the four factors when determining whether you need copyright permission. Instructors should pay close attention to the size of the clip and the relationship of the clip to the essence of the film.
What do I do if someone claims copyright infringement against me?
If you are a university employee who has photocopied in the course of his or her employment, contact the Office of Administrative Legal Services, 263-7400.
Can I play music in class?
Performing music for instructional purposes is allowed under Section 110 of theU.S. Copyright law. You may not use it for background music or entertainment purposes without permission.
What are the rules for copying music?
You may copy sheet work and entire works only for performances and in emergencies. Out of print sheet music and performable units (e.g., movements, sections, arias) may be copied. Student performances may be recorded only for instructor or institutional evaluation or the student’s collection of work. Finally, one copy of a sound recording may be made for classroom or reserve use.
Distance education and online classes
The TEACH Act, Section 110 of the copyright law allows educational performances and displays of copyright works (like poems, plays, musical works and movies) in distance education environments. Additional restrictions in the distance education environment include the following:
- Institution or instructor must possess a legal copy of the work
- Instructor must limit use to small portion of the work
- Copyright notice must be displayed
- Appropriate citations to the source must be included
- Proper notice under Section 108(f)(1) is required
- Access to the materials must be limited to students enrolled in the course and must be terminated at the end of the course
- Permission is required for materials that will be used repeatedly in future courses by the instructor