What is copyright? | What are the basic terms for copyright protection?
What copyright protect? | When does copyright protection begin?
What can by copyrighted? | What cannot be copyrighted?
What are the copyright holders exclusive rights in regard to their copyrighted work?
What is the public domain? | What is the First Sale Doctrine? | What is fair use?
What must you do if the use of the work does not meet the fair use requirements?
What happens if permission cannot be obtained for use of an item?
Whose responsibility is it to obtain copyright permission? | Who keeps the copyright permission?
How are copyright fees assessed? | What constitutes a coursepack?
What about faculty reserves in the library?
What about posting copyrighted material to course management systems?
Is digital content found on Web sites or the Internet copyright protected?
Can I show a movie in my classroom? | What if I am using a work that I authored or created?
What is the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization TEACH Act?
What are the TEACH Act Requirements? | What types of activities violate copyright law?
What are the penalties for copyright violation? | How can the copyright dilemma be avoided?

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by Congress for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright is available for both published and unpublished works, regardless of the nationality or location of the author. The first copyright law was enacted in 1790 and has been revised several times since then with the most recent revision signed into law in 1976. The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1988 extended the copyright term for an additional 20 years for many works. Copyright law can be found in Title 17 of the United States Code.

What are the basic terms for copyright protection?

Works that were created on or after January 1, 1978 are protected for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death. If the work was created by a corporate author or is a work made for hire, copyright protection is for the shorter of 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation.

What does copyright protect?

Copyright protects original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This includes works such as poetry, novels, plays, movies, audio-visuals, songs or sound recordings, pantomimes, graphics, computer software, and architecture.

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When does copyright protection begin?

Copyright protection exists from the moment the work is created in a fixed and tangible medium of expression. The word “copyright” or © is no longer required for works to be copyright protected.

What can be copyrighted?

There are eight categories of works that can be copyrighted. These categories are: (1) literary, musical, and dramatic works; (2) pantomimes and choreographic works; (3) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; (4) sound recordings; (5) motion pictures and other AV works; (6) computer programs; (7) compilations of works and derivative works; and (8) architectural works.

What cannot be copyrighted?

The following items cannot be copyrighted: (1) ideas, procedures, methods, systems, and processes; (2) titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; (3) facts, news, and research; and (4) works produced by the United States Government or its employees as a part of their job. However, copyright may protect the way in which facts, ideas, or systems are expressed.

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What are the copyright holder’s exclusive rights in regard to their copyrighted work?

The copyright holder has the exclusive right to do the following with their copyrighted material: (1) make copies; (2) create derivative works; (3) distribute the work; (4) publicly perform the work; and (5) publicly display the work.

What is the public domain?

The public domain includes those works which never had copyright protection and those works on which copyright protection has expired. Works in the public domain are no longer protected by copyright law and can be freely used. As a practical matter, all works published in the United States prior to 1923 are in the public domain. Works published between 1923 and 1963 on which copyright registration was not renewed are also in the public domain. Additionally, works produced by the United States Government or its employees as a part of their job are in the public domain. State and local government publications are generally copyrighted and so are not public domain works.

What is the First Sale Doctrine?

Under this doctrine, the owner of a copyright protected work in physical form can lend, resell, or dispose of the item. It is this doctrine that allows libraries to purchase copyrighted material and make it available to faculty, students, and staff, or place it on faculty reserves. It is also this doctrine that allows a professor to place a personal copy of copyrighted material on faculty reserves. The first sale doctrine does not allow for the reproduction, public display, or performance of the work. The first sale doctrine does not apply to copyrighted material available through a licensing arrangement.

What is fair use?

Fair use is primarily intended to allow the use of copyrighted works for criticism, commentary, news reporting, education, scholarship, or research. If the use is not for one of the above, you must obtain copyright permission to use the content of the work. Even if the use is for one of the above, you may not be able to rely on fair use and will be required to obtain copyright permission.

Fair use is a defense to a claim of copyright infringement for the purposes listed above. Copyright allows for the use of copyrighted materials without permission of the owner if the user complies with the fair use guidelines. Fair use is determined on a case-by-case basis and assesses the following four factors:

1. Purpose: the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is for commercial purposes or for nonprofit educational purposes.
2. Nature: the nature of the copyrighted work; what kind of work is it, non-fiction/factual or fiction.
3. Amount: the amount and substantiality of the portion of the work to be used in relation to the work as a whole; will a small or large portion be used; even if a small portion, is it the “heart” of the work.
4. Effect: the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the work; will copying decrease the value of or demand for the work.

No one factor determines whether or not a valid claim of fair use can be made. Each situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of fair use include the following:
• A short quotation in a scholarly work for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations.
• A parody that uses minimal amounts of a work.
• A summary of an article.

If you would like to use copyrighted material in your classroom, please click on the link below and complete the Checklist for Fair Use Analysis form to assess whether or not the use of the copyrighted materials meets the fair use requirements or whether you must obtain copyright permission.

Checklist for Fair Use Analysis

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What must you do if the use of the work does not meet the fair use requirements?

If a fair use argument cannot be established, you must seek copyright permission in order to use the work.

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What happens if permission cannot be obtained for use of an item?

If you do not receive a response granting permission to use the copyrighted work, you can not assume that you have been granted permission. You must assume that you have not been granted permission and will be unable to use that particular copyrighted work.

Whose responsibility is it to obtain copyright permission?

Below is a link to the Copyright Permission Request Form that you can complete and submit online to request copyright permission. The librarian responsible for copyright permission will review the request and attempt to secure permission. You should allow a minimum of 4 weeks for permission to be secured or denied by the copyright owner.

[Copyright Permission Request Form Link]

Who keeps the copyright permission?

The party who requested copyright permission should keep a copy of any granted permission in their files. In addition, the librarian responsible for copyright permission will keep a file of all requests granted.

How are copyright fees assessed?

For paper materials, the publisher or rightsholder establishes the amount to be charged for each copy of an item. There is not a set or standard fee. If multiple copies are made of a single item, it is necessary to pay for each copy of the item.

For electronic reserves, the publisher or rightsholder establishes the amount to be charged for each item placed on electronic reserves. Electronic reserves fees are generally assessed for each student enrolled in the class.

In some cases, copyright permission may be granted free of charge, but that is at the discretion of the publisher or rightsholder.

All copyright fees incurred will be charged back to the organizational unit that requested the permission.

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What constitutes a coursepack?

A coursepack is a collection of materials, such as journal, periodical, or newspaper articles, book excerpts, or other materials selected by the instructor as relevant to the class. At the University of Denver, coursepacks are prepared and reproduced by the main campus bookstore. The photocopying of materials for coursepacks does not qualify as fair use and so copyright permission is required. Click on the link below to be directed the bookstores coursepack adoption form.

An e-coursepack contains the same types of materials as a paper coursepack, but is posted online for student access. Just like paper course packs, e-coursepacks require copyright permission from all the relevant copyright holders.

Copyright permissions for coursepack materials are generally only provided for a specific period of time, such as the semester or quarter. After that time period has lapsed, permission will need to be re-sought if the materials are to be used in subsequent semesters or quarters, whether paper or online.

Without permission from the copyright holders, paper and e-coursepacks infringe copyright and may result in liability.

What about faculty reserves in the library?

If the library has purchased the material (or the professor provides a personally purchased copy of that material), the material can be placed on faculty reserves in the library for that particular semester. This type of short-term faculty reserve does not require copyright permission.

If you desire to have multiple paper reproductions placed on faculty reserve, this type of reserve will generally require copyright permission.

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What about posting copyrighted material to course management systems (e.g., Blackboard and TWEN)?

Just because the content is password protected does not eliminate the need to seek copyright permission. Content that is uploaded to course management systems generally requires copyright permission. The basic guideline is that if you need permission to use the content in paper format, you need permission to use the content in electronic format.

If you want to provide an electronic link to content, it is the license agreement for the electronic resource where the material is available that will determine if this type of link is permitted. In many cases, the license agreements for electronic content allow for students to access the content through a hyperlink, but you must first check with the copyright librarian to verify that.

If you want to determine whether information is available electronically, the library will be happy to assist you in attempting to locate the information in one of our databases.

Is digital content found on Web sites or the Internet copyright protected?

Content found on Web sites or the Internet is protected by copyright law even if it does not carry a copyright notice. As a result, you must seek copyright permission in order to use content on the Internet. Examples of works that are protected in digital form include electronic books, digital musical recordings, e-mails, Web sites, and works embedded in Web sites.

Can I show a movie in my classroom?

A professor can display or perform a work in the classroom without obtaining copyright permission if the following requirements are met: (1) the use is for instructional purposes only; (2) the use occurs in a face-to-face teaching setting; (3) the use occurs at a nonprofit educational institution; and (4) the material being displayed or performed was lawfully obtained.

If you cannot meet these criteria you must either meet the fair use provisions or you must obtain copyright permission.

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What if I am using a work that I authored or created?

If you are the author of the work, and it was not a work made for hire, you are the original copyright holder. However, if you transferred your copyright to another entity, such as publisher, without retaining any rights for yourself, you are no longer the copyright holder. As a result, in order to use the work it must meet the fair use provisions or you must obtain copyright permission.

What is the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act?

The TEACH Act addresses the special environment of distance learning or education. The Act allows accredited, nonprofit educational institutions to perform and display copyrighted materials for distance education if all the requirements of the TEACH Act are met. The TEACH Act allows access to copyright protected materials for distance education purposes, but the academic institution must meet very specific requirements in order to rely on the Act. In many cases, most distance education instructors rely on the fair use provisions because the TEACH Act provisions are so difficult to meet.

The TEACH Act does not extend to electronic reserves or paper or e-coursepacks. In addition, it does not supersede fair use or existing licensing arrangements.

What are the TEACH Act Requirements?

There are a number of requirements that must be met in order for a distance education instructor to rely on the TEACH Act versus the fair use provision. A number of the requirements of the TEACH Act are as follows: (1) the educational institution must be accredited and not-for-profit; (2) the use of the materials must be limited to only those students specifically enrolled in the distance education class; (3) the use of the materials must be for either live or asynchronous class sessions; (4) the use must not include the transmission of materials typically purchased or acquired by students for use in the class; and (5) the institution must have technological measures that ensure compliance with all TEACH Act policies.

Please note this is not a full list of the TEACH Act requirements. A full listing can be obtained in the Copyright Act.

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What types of activities violate copyright law?

The following activities are likely to violate copyright law:

• Copying and sharing copyrighted material, including images, movies, and MP3 files
• Posting copyrighted material
• Plagiarizing copyrighted material
• Unauthorized downloading of anything you do not own, such as MP3 files, movies, software, etc.

When in doubt regarding a particular work, assume it is copyrighted.

What are the penalties for copyright violation?

When you reproduce, republish, or redistribute a copyrighted work without permission, you may be violating copyright law and could be sued by the copyright holder. Damages can range from $250 to $150,000 plus attorneys’ fees for each infringing copy. Damages can be more than that if the infringement was willful. You may also be criminally liable if you copied the work for financial gain, which could result in a jail sentence.

How can the copyright dilemma be avoided?

There are a number of ways that you can avoid having to seek copyright permission without violating copyright law. Some alternatives include the following:

• Check the Westminster Law Library and Penrose Library Databases to determine if an article is available electronically. The library can assist in you in this process. If so, provide the students with the URL, if the license agreement allows for that, or direct them to the specific database where they can locate the material. Students are permitted to access these articles in accordance with the license agreement for that particular database.
• Place a copy of the library’s book on faculty reserves for that particular semester. If the library does not own the book and the book will be used extensively, contact the library to determine if it can order a copy of the book.
• Put your personally owned copy of the book on faculty reserve for that particular semester.
• Ask the University of Denver Bookstore to compile a coursepack for your class that can be sold to students. The bookstore will secure the necessary copyright permissions for the coursepack.

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