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Understanding Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright and fair use are very complicated issues with more areas of grey than black & white. This library guide will help answer some basic questions you may have about working with copyrighted print and electronic materials.

Copyright on Campus

Copyright protects owners of intellectual property, such as texts, artworks, film, music, websites, and any other fixed form, from unauthorized copying, distribution, or broadcast. Without laws requiring proper attribution and, in many cases, compensation, creators of innovative content might be dissuaded from producing work that contributes to intellectual, cultural, or artistic innovation. However, work created by scholars, writers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers must be accessible in order for it to be useful and to inspire further innovation. Copyright law exists to bridge the rights of creators with the needs of scholars and future creators.

Copyright symbol

Unfortunately, the body of laws, regulations, and case law that encompass copyright is incredibly complicated, there are a great many areas that remain subjective and subject to interpretation, with some attorneys focusing their entire careers on just this field. While this guide aims to answer some basic questions you might have about copyright and how to manage it in the college classroom and the online learning environment, it should not be construed as a legal guide.

Copyright Clearance Center Resources

Copyright on Campus is a six-minute video production of  the Copyright Clearance Center, the leading organization in the U.S. for learning about copyright compliance in all industries and for seeking copyright permissions. CCC offers this concise animated film as an introduction to fair use on college campuses.

Note that the terms of this video's use are clearly defined on the page--linking to the page that contains the video is is allowed, but embedding the video is not!

Copyright in Academia (a webinar just over 30 minutes long) is intended to provide a short, but in-depth look at important concerns surrounding the use of copyright-protected content within an academic environment. Included are discussions of copyright compliance in course management systems and e-reserves, and how specific copyright laws such as the DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 1998) and the TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act, 2002) provide refinements of existing law regarding copyright on the Internet and in the digital classroom respectively. Here is a quick summary of how the TEACH Act impacts academic institutions.

Note that the terms of this webinar's use are clearly defined on its page. You can linking to the page that provides access to the webinar, but to view it, you must provide personally identifying information to download it to your browser for viewing.