Here are some answers to frequently asked questions. If your question has not been answered here, you may submit it to the Library. Staff Services also has a very short, very clear booklet on copyright that may be useful.
The work that I want to use in my book is out of print, does that mean that it is no longer protected by copyright?
Being out of print has no bearing on the copyright status of a work; the time limits and fair use exemption still need to be applied.
Can I use a film that I rented from a local video
store or purchased myself in my class?
Using tapes labeled "Home Use Only" is considered fair use in face-to-face teaching in a classroom. The film cannot be shown in the classroom though if it not directly related to the teaching. In other words, they cannot be shown as entertainment or a reward.
Recently I visited the Art Institute of Chicago
and purchased some slides of painting by Renaissance artists.
I'd like to digitize these and use them for my online course.
Is this OK? All of the painters have been dead for centuries,
so the works are in the public domain, right?
Although, the works are in the public domain, the slides are probably not. Either the Art Institute or the photographer owns the copyright, depending on whether it was produced as a work for hire. If, on the other hand, you could legally take that photo yourself, it would be permissible because you would own the copyright for the slide. (Subject to any museum conditions for taking the slide.).
There's no copyright symbol on the work I want
to use. Does that mean it's not protected?
No, since March 1, 1989 the copyright symbol © has not been required. You might also have something that qualifies as an unpublished work, in which case it may still be protected.
I gave credit to all the creators of the materials
I'm using so I'm not infringing, am I?
If the work you created is outside the exclusion limits of the copyright law and the materials you used are protected by copyright, then you are still infringing, just not plagiarizing.
The copyright owner won't mind, because he's
getting free publicity by my using his work.
The copyright owner still maintains the right to distribute his work and you do need permission.
I found a great illustration on the Internet
that I want to add to my online course. The person who posted
it must know that it can be easily copied, so isn't that implied
Publishing something on a web site is no different from publishing it in a more traditional format. The person who created it controls its duplication and distribution unless it is clearly stated that the material may be copied or is in the public domain. In addition, the person who posted it may not have created it and the posting itself may violate copyright.
I want to use some information from a critical
edition of Voltaire's Candide. Isn't Candide in
the public domain and no longer protected by copyright?
Candide in the original French is in the public domain, but the translation may not be, it depends on when it was created. In addition, any commentary or annotations that are in the critical edition are works of the editor or others and may still be under copyright protection.
Instead of copying something I found on the Internet,
can I just make a link to it, then there won't be any question
of infringement, will there?
While often true, this may cause others problems under certain circumstances. The link should make it clear that the work is not one's own. This can especially be a problem when frames are used. The TotalNews case illustrates this. TotalNews used frames to display news articles from other sources on the web. The original source was not attributed and it was surrounded by the TotalNews URL, logo, banner, etc. TotalNews was sued by CNN, Reuters, the Washington Post, and others claiming that this was "the Internet equivalent of pirating copyrighted materials" among other charges. In an out-of court settlement TotalNews agreed.
Note: It is contrary to net etiquette to use an IMG without permission from the copyright owner of the image
The Foreign Language Club wants to have a monthly
showing of different recent foreign language films followed by
a discussion. Isn't this fair use because of the educational benefit?
While showing copyrighted feature films in the classroom is fair use, showing them to a club is not. Fair use in this case requires that it be in the course of face-to-face teaching of an established course.
I made copies of an article for my fall Sociology
class. Can I copy the same article for my spring classes?
No, the rule of spontaneity would not apply and there would have been enough time to request permission.
I often photocopy current news articles of interest
to my class, is this allowed?
According to some sources this should be ok. The limits that usually apply to periodicals or other sources do not apply to "current news periodicals and newspapers and current news sections of other periodicals."
There's a Peanuts comic that's really appropriate
for my ESL classes. Can I copy it and place it on the classroom
bulletin board? Is it OK if I make enough copies for all the ESL
Making one copy and posting it is within the fair use guidelines. You cannot however make multiple copies and distribute them to other teachers. If each of the teachers who saw it individually and spontaneously asked for a copy, that would be permitted.
I made a copy of a television program that's
relevant to my class. After the ten day viewing period I asked
the library to add it to the collection, but it's not available
for sale or even rental. Since it cannot be purchased or rented,
can the library retain the copy?
No, other than the exemptions provided by the fair use guidelines, the copyright owner has the exclusive right to perform or distribute the program.
Are e-mail messages and listserv and usergroup
postings protected by copyright? Shouldn't the author assume that
they will be shared?
These are protected by copyright just as any other writing that is established in a fixed format, unless the author states otherwise. Some listservs make it clear that, by posting messages, the author is placing them in the public domain, but not all do so. If in doubt, it is best to ask for permission or to apply the fair use criteria. You may however paraphrase the messages.
I think what I am doing is fair use, but what
if someone says it isn't?
There is some protection for unintentional infringement by educators in a not-for-profit use. Keep careful records. What part of the copyright law or guidelines led you to believe it was fair use? What steps did you take to locate the copyright owner? What attempts did you take to secure an original copy of the item? In other words, document your good faith effort to stay within the copyright law and guidelines.
Using tapes of news programs is legal under the
fair use guidelines. Does this include all news programs?
Programs in magazine format such as 60 Minutes or Nightline do not share the blanket exemption. You must apply other fair use criteria or guidelines to them.
I have a C-SPAN program that I'd like to use, is that OK? ?
C-SPAN allows teachers at accredited institutions to tape and use any program as long as it is for in-class educational use and not redistribution or political purposes.
Video coverage of floor proceedings in the House and Senate are in the public domain; no permission is needed. Hearings may or may not be, then the permission above would apply..
Some other cable networks offer some form of permission; it's always best to check the stations' web site for the information about use. Or ask for specific permission.
I've heard some discussion that linking (without
permission) is going to be illegal. Is it?
If the link places it in a frame in such a way to make the user think the work is yours and not someone else's, there may be a legal issue. Definitely, using someone else's logo or trademark without permission is not allowed.
One of my students wrote a great paper and I want to put it on reserve for future students to see what an A paper looks like. That's ok because once it was handed in it belongs to me.
Actually, students own the copyright to works they produce. To redistribute or reproduce the work you will need to get the student's permission, preferably in written form. See Ball State's explanation for more detail and use this as a model form.
The information on this site is intended to
inform the faculty, staff and
students at the College of DuPage about copyright and to provide guidelines
for using and creating copyrighted material. The information should not
be considered legal advice.
For more information contact The Library