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IECD Library Resources: Copyright

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The information on this page is intended to help familiarize you with copyright policies and compliance.  It is not legal advice, nor is it meant to replace the advice of legal counsel.

Copyright Basics

What is copyright?

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright is: "a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works."

This box was originally created by Butler University Libraries.

What does copyright protect?

Under 17 USCS Section 102 the following is protected:

  • Literature
  • Music and lyrics
  • Drama
  • Pantomime and dance
  • Pictures, graphics, sculpture
  • Films
  • Sound Recordings
  • Architecture
  • Software

"In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work."

Who owns the copyright?

  • The author
  • Those deriving rights through or from the author
    • This can include publishers, record labels, descendants of the author, etc.
  • If the work is done as a work for hire, the employer of the author is the copyright holder
  • If the work has more than one author, two or more authors can own copyright

-Derived from the Copyright Clearance Center's 2006 Copyright Education Series Foundations Workbook

What does the right of "first sale" mean?

The "first sale" doctrine says that a person who buys a legally produced copyrighted work may "sell or otherwise dispose" of the work as he or she sees fit, subject to some important exceptions (Section 109a). "First sale" gives you the right to loan a legally purchased book or CD to your friend. Historically, libraries have heavily relied on the first sale doctrine to lend books and other items to their patrons.

The first sale clause was enacted during a time when most copyrighted works were produced in physical formats that made such works difficult to reproduce on a large scale. Many protected works including books are now produced digitally, however, copyright owners have lobbied Congress for new laws that some feel may undermine the "first sale" doctrine.

Additionally, many publishers (most notably music publishers) are now creating works to include technologies that interfere with the "first sale" doctrine. Software companies also attempt to circumvent the first sale doctrine by characterizing the consumer purchase as a license rather than a sale.

First sale issues are entangled with licensing and Digital Millennium Copyright Act issues. To learn more about The Digital Millennium Copyright Act please see the American Library Association's Introduction to the DMCA.

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Interactive Copyright Tools

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More Information

For more information, be sure to visit the Copyright Clearance Center's website at: www.copyright.com.  You can also link directly to their copyright education page by clicking here.

Fair Use - Exception & Evaluation

The Copyright Act gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute their work. One exception to this exclusive right is called "the fair use exception." 

The fair use exception permits the reproduction of a portion of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission, under certain circumstances.

This is a vitally important exception for education, as it enables students, scholars, and critics to use and reference copyrighted works in their own scholarship, teaching, and critiques.


"Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University provides this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principle:"

 

These boxes were originally created by Butler University Libraries.

There's no one right answer as to what constitutes a fair use of a particular copyrighted work. 

Four factors are considered in all fair use evaluations. They are:

  • Purpose & character
    • Purpose: Is the copyrighted material being used for commercial or nonprofit educational purposes? Fair use favors educational purposes, but commercial entities can also take advantage of fair use
    • Character: Is the use of the copyrighted material transformative? (i.e. subjected to scholarly analysis, remixed, parodies, etc.)
  • Nature of the work
  • Amount - of the work being used
  • Effect 

These four factors are not meant to be exclusive and must be examined together. The statute does not indicate how much weight is to be accorded each factor.

For help in making a fair use evaluation, please see the links below. The Columbia checklist is a printable PDF, while the American Library Association's Evaluator walks you through creating a fair use document for your records. In the event of a lawsuit, having such a document may help you prove you made a good faith effort to comply with the fair use clause of U.S. Copyright Law.

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Requesting Permission

It can be daunting to know where to begin when it comes to requesting permission to use copyrighted material.  Follow the link below for a sample copyright permissions letter designed by Columbia University for instructors using course management systems like Moodle.

Model Permissions Letter