Frequently Asked Questions - Copyright

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What do you mean by the nature of a copyrighted work?

  • The nature of a copyrighted work means whether the work is a creative work such as works for entertainment or whether the work is factual.  Authors/Producers of works for entertainment have more protected copyrights than do authors of works that are predominately factual, because facts are not copyrightable.

What is the purpose of notice of copyright?

  • The purpose of notice of copyright is attribution—acknowledgement of the work created by the copyright holder.  (An item does not have to have the copyright symbol to be copyright protected.)

Am I free to use an item that does not contain a copyright symbol?

  • Probably not; the current law in the Unites States is that the item in question only has to have been created.  Even if the author has not applied for copyright protection, they acquired copyrights the instant that they created the work. 

 What is a derivative work?

  • An example of a derivative work is when a book is converted to a movie or to a Broadway musical.  A change is made to the original work.

For fair use purposes, how does a faculty member evaluate a PowerPoint with copyrighted slides, images, and audio for copyright compliance?  If a small portion is used, could this be considered a derivative work?

  • No, a small amount used is not a derivative work.  It is simply a small portion of the work and you have just copied it.  For example, if you cut and paste some information from Britannica online, just cite the source in the PowerPoint.  Britannica requests that you give them credit for any material copied.   It is important to know the source of the PowerPoint.  Is it work that an instructor has developed, where they have taken images from a copyrighted work and now want to place it on reserve?  If that is what it is, then even placing the entire PowerPoint on reserve is probably fine because the faculty member owns the copyright in the PowerPoint [perhaps the institution, but more likely the faculty member], but the second time the faculty member wants it on reserve, permission is needed.  The faculty member or the library will need to acquire permission for many of the items that are included in it, unless the sources are from educational friendly sources such as Britannica.

Are there sources that I may use in my PowerPoint presentations that do not charge royalties? 

  • Yes, there are some free source providers such as Britannica, and items in Creative Commons that asks only that you properly cite the source.

Why does the Library use the services of the Copyright Clearance Center?

  • To request and pay royalties for permission to use part or all of an author’s work.  It is timelier to use the CCC services.

How do I know if the author or publisher from whom I need to request permission is a member of the Copyright Clearance Center?  What if the author is located in CCC?

  • There is a list of almost 10,000 publishers that belong to CCC.  You can find the list of publishers on their website, which is www.copyright.com.  Also, there is a list of authors in www.authorsregistry.org.

Can a digital archival copy be made of a tape that was only available in the VHS format and can the archival copy be used for Traditional Reserves?  Can small portions be used for E-Reserves?

  • There is no permission to make archival copies of audiovisual work.  The only archival copying allowed under the copyright statute is Section 117 for software.  If a digital copy is made, the statute has been violated.  The only way this can be done is under Section 110c, when a VHS copy has become damaged and no VHS copy can be purchased because none exist, you try to purchase it in DVD and it does not exist, then a DVD replacement copy can be made and placed on Reserve.  You must first search for an unused replacement at a fair price in the format that is desired.

I thought if my use of another person’s copyrighted work was for educational purposes that my use would be fair use.  Is it?

  • Not necessarily; a non-profit educational use is just one aspect of the four factors to be considered in determining fair use. For more information see the Fair Use Evaluator an online tool that can help users understand how to determine if the use of a protected work is a “fair use.”

What is subsequent use?

  • It really means use of the same material during subsequent semesters.  A faculty member may use it the first semester, but the next time that faculty member asks to use the same material on E-Reserve, either the faculty member or the library seeks permission and pays royalties if permission is granted.

Is making a small number of photocopies for reserve fair use?

  • Probably, but it is not clear because it is governed by Section 107, which is one of the fuzziest concepts in copyright law.  Section 107 includes the fair use doctrine, “If using a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction and copies, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, including multiple copies for classroom use, scholarship or research, it is not an infringement of copyright.”

How soon may I use the material again, for example, every other semester?

  • Royalty charges may increase and acquiring permission to use may be denied with every subsequent use even if it is every other semester.

 Is it okay if the material is used every other semester?

  • No, it really means repeated semesters.  If a faculty member uses material one semester, the next time that individual faculty member asks to use the material again, the library seeks permission or the faculty member seeks permission every subsequent semester.

When faculty requests copyright permission, does the copyright holder grant extensive permission or should it be specified whether the material is for Traditional reserves or electronic reserves?

  • It is very important to specify whether the material is for Traditional Library Reserves or electronic reserves.  The publisher will not automatically assume you seek permission for Traditional Library Reserves (most publishers charge more for electronic use.  However, posting the URL normally does not incur a charge.)  

What citation information should be included on photocopied material before placing it in Traditional Reserve and E-Reserve?

  • Notice of copyright, which include the word “copyright” or the abbreviation “copr” or the “c” in a circle (©), the name of the copyright holder, and the year of publication, should be placed on the first page of each photocopy being processed for reserves.  The Reserves Department will ensure that items placed on reserve will have the proper copyright information located on the first page of each article item placed on Reserve or E-Reserve.

 

For more information on copyright see:

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