What’s the big deal about the little © and why is it relevant in higher education? Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection articulated in the United States Constitution and ensured by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.
In order to comply with copyright law it is important to understand copyright and the two important exemptions that have been put in place in order to balance the rights of copyright holders with the needs of higher education. The Fair Use Exemption checklist (see below) and the Teach Act together will help you to determine if a work can be used without infringement. It is very important that after determining your fair use, that you print and save this checklist for your own records. Also, the Public Domain is a great source for finding works that are no longer under copyright, see the links below.
- Copyright Basics (PDF) (US Copyright Office)
Fair Use Links & Forms
- Fair Use Checklist (PDF) Completion required for Course Reserves & Course Pack forms.
- Stanford University Libraries - Copyright and Fair Use
- Columbia University Libraries Copyright Advisory Office -Fair Use
- Fair Use Evaluator
The face-to-face teaching exemption (Section 100 (1) of the U.S. Copyright Law) allows an instructor to show a video/TV show in their classroom to officially registered students when the content of the film directly relates to the course curricula. If the screening is going to be a public performance in a public space such as a dorm lounge or student center, or for a club/organization you will need to purchase public performance rights in order to legally show the media. For more information on how to get permissions please contact us.
Public Domain Links
Works come into the Public Domain when their copyrights expire. A good date to know is 1923; usually anything published before 1923 is in the Public Domain. However, any and all content must always be evaluated on a case by case basis, especially if looking at work published outside the United States. See below for general rules related to defining Public Domain status. Please note there are many variables to consider, such as if the work was published or unpublished, if it was created by an individual, or corporation, a government entity, and which country it was published in first, just to name a few of the determining factors.
- Works published in the U.S. before 1923
- Works published with a copyright notice from 1923 through 1963 without copyright renewal
- Works published without a copyright notice from 1923 through 1977
- Works published without a copyright notice from 1978 through March 1, 1989 and without subsequent registration within 5 years
- Ideas, methods, facts, and events
- Titles, short phrases, and slogans
- Numbers, symbols, processes and systems
- Most government works and documents
- Works dedicated to the public
- U.S laws and court decisions
- Listings of ingredients or content
- Works which are not the product of human authorship
- Works which have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression
- Works which have entered the Public Domain because of expired copyright
- Items whose inherent function is utilitarian -furniture, clothing, tools, dishes…
Note: Some of these items may be restricted by other laws, such as patent, trademark or trade secret.
See below for a brief definition of the Open Access movement as defined by the three original formal definitions that were set forth in the Budapest, Bethesda and Berlin statements. This definition is known as the consolidated BBB definition.
According to Peter Suber:
The best-known part of the BBB definition is that OA content must be free of charge for all users with an internet connection. However, the BBB definition doesn't stop at free online access. It adds an extra dimension that isn't as easy to describe, and consequently is often dropped or obscured. This extra dimension gives users permission for all legitimate scholarly uses. It removes what I've called permission barriers, as opposed to price barriers. The Budapest statement puts the extra dimension this way:
By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.
For other interpretations of the definition of Open Access see:
Suber, Peter. "Suber, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, 9/2/04." Suber, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, 9/2/04. SPARC Open Access Newsletter, 02 Sept. 2004. Web. 08 Feb. 2016. September 2, 2004 http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/09-02-04.htm#progress
Creative Commons licensing is an alternative to the traditional “All rights reserved,” copyright licensing. With a CC license the creator still maintains the original copyright, while at the same time sharing his creation with the world. The original creator is able to define the specific rights that he keeps and those he freely shares according to which type and combination of CC license he assigns to his creation. There are six regular licenses which can be layered and combined for less sharing or for more sharing of content, depending upon the licensee’s choice. Once you place a CC license on your work it cannot be revoked.
This is important to know because it is directly related to the first factor of the Fair Use Checklist (PDF), the “purpose” factor. The short answer is a distinguishable degree of difference and a judgment of motivation. It is important to know that a derivative work is the exclusive right of the copyright holder while a transformative use, as defined by a court of law, is a legal use of a preexisting work.
A derivative work is a work based upon one or more preexisting works such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship is a "derivative work.”A transformative work is a work which uses an existing work and demonstrates a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning, or message, such as a parody.
Because the dissemination of facts or information benefits the public, there is more leeway to copy from factual works such as biographies than from fictional works such as plays or novels. Think of this in terms of something like a cookbook versus a book of poetry. The cookbook has a thin copyright because it contains lists/facts, whereas the book of poetry is creative, thus it is much easier to justify fair use for the cookbook than for the poetry.
In addition, you will have a stronger case of fair use if you are wanting to use material from a published work versus an unpublished work. The scope of fair use is narrower for unpublished works because an author (or their heirs) has the right to control the first public appearance of the work.
In general conditions which favor fair use are as follows:
- Work with a thin or weak copyright
- Reference works, science, other works that are primarily factual have elements that are not subject to copyright
- A work which has already been published
Conditions which do not favor fair use:
- Commercial use
- Unpublished works
Course packs must be reviewed each semester to make sure that all content is in line with UNG copyright compliance and to renew request for permissions “to print to distribute,” if necessary.
Procedure for requesting a course pack review:
1) Send content in PDF format via email to: email@example.com or drop off original documents/sources at the Library Information Desk (Dahlonega campus) for the copyright review. If you are on a different campus you may send intercampus mail to Terri Bell at the Library Technology Center -Dahlonega. Please note if content is sent via email, you will still need to provide original sources to Print Services for printing.
2) Instructor will be contacted within five business days of submission with review results and to set up an appointment if necessary.
3) If there is any content in the course pack which needs copyright permission, instructor will receive follow-up information on that process.
4) When course pack is in compliance, instructor will be notified and course pack will be forwarded to Print Services.
You will, your students and peers may ask you if you got permissions and UNG legal counsel will definitely be asking you about permissions if they get an infringement complaint.
UNG faculty and staff are responsible for educating our students about copyright compliance and to that end, we should take every opportunity to create teachable moments in regard to our own experiences using and working with copyrighted materials. Below is a great video in reference to music copyrights/infringement to share in your classroom. Please let us know if you would like more copyright informational resources to share with your class.
Copyright Awareness for Students
The legal basis for copyright comes from the United States Constitution. UNG copyright compliance operates under a three tiered authority as follows:
Additional Guidelines for Electronic Reserves
University of North Georgia Copyright Policy
University of North Georgia adheres to the practices and policies set forth by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and federal copyright laws. For more on this policy see: http://www.usg.edu/copyright.