Copyright FAQs

 

SPSCC is committed to respecting the rights of copyright holders and complying with copyright law. This information is to assist faculty, staff, and students in making informed decisions regarding appropriate use of copyrighted materials.

Is there a limited number of pages we can legally use from a copyrighted source for the purposes of education? If yes, how many? Can one chapter of a book be used as an educational tool for students without requesting permission?

We look to copyright law and to the four fair use factors to answer these questions. The determination of whether the use of a copyrighted work is within fair use depends upon making a reasoned and balanced application of the four fair use factors set forth in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act. The factor that is most appropriate to consider in your question is the third factor: The amount, substantiality, or portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. This factor requires consideration of 1) the proportion of the larger work that is copied and used, and 2) the significance of the copied portion. Usually, the larger the amount used, the less it can be considered as "fair" and acceptable under fair use rules.

A single copy may be made of any of the following by or for a teacher at his or her individual request for his or her scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

  1. A chapter from a book;
  2. An article from a periodical or newspaper;
  3. A short story, short essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work;
  4. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:

  1. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity
  2. Meets the cumulative effect test, and
  3. Each copy includes a notice of copyright.

The Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance informs us that:

Fair use is not a straightforward concept; therefore, any fair use analysis must be conducted on a case-by-case basis considering all four factors and the circumstances of the situation at hand.

Examples of fair use:

  • Quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work for illustration or clarification of the author's observations.
  • Spontaneous and unexpected reproduction of material for classroom use - for example, where an article in the morning's paper is directly relevant to that day's class topic.
  • A parody that includes short portions of a work.
  • A summary of an address or article, which may include quotations of short passages of the copyright-protected work.
Is there a single source of information on campus regarding the scope of copyright restrictions on the use of text and video resources?

These FAQs and other resources linked here will answer most of your questions. For more help, contact the Library.

For handouts, instruction, and reference materials, I use copies of selected pages from miscellaneous code books or other publications that are copyrighted. What is the college’s policy regarding this? Can I use a limited number of hard copies for the students in my class or is it ok to use an easily, mass distributable form like PDFs?

Typically, a single copy may be made of any of the following by or for a teacher at his or her individual request for his or her scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

  1. A chapter from a book;
  2. An article from a periodical or newspaper;
  3. A short story, short essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work;
  4. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:

  1. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity
  2. Meets the cumulative effect test, and
  3. Each copy includes a notice of copyright.

But, your question is a good one about print versus pdf format. It would not be appropriate to email a pdf of an article to the students in your class, because then you would be unable to monitor the student's ability to save the work, or to then send it on to someone else. If you are uploading pdfs to your Canvas classroom, then you must also consider the TEACH Act guidelines:

Generally, to perform or display a work in your online class the work must be:

  • used under your supervision;
  • as an integral part of the class session;
  • as part of systematic mediated instructional activities (in a manner analogous to performances and displays in live classroom settings);
  • directly and materially related to the teaching content.

The work must be lawfully made and not excerpted from a product that was specifically designed and marketed for use in an online course. And, there are three additional requirements:

  • You must password protect or otherwise restrict access to your online class website to enrolled students, and
  • You must reasonably prevent your students from being able to save or print the work, i.e., control the "downstream" uses, and
  • You must include a general copyright warning on your class website.

Rather than uploading pdfs of articles to your Canvas classroom, it can be a safe option to provide links to websites or to the articles within library databases, the licenses to access the materials having been purchased by the library.

Can I copy chapters from a textbook and distribute them to my students? How many copies can we make from a book for which we purchase the class set? (We can’t allow students to write in the books, hence the needed copies)?

Generally, this is NOT fair use. The market for the textbook is directly affected by this activity. Students who would otherwise be expected to purchase the book no longer need to and the publisher is deprived of sales in their primary market.

When I scan materials from books to make available for students on Canvas, how much am I allowed to use? I have heard 10%, but I have also heard two chapters. I regularly put scanned material on Canvas for students and would love to know how much material I can use from one source?

We look to copyright law and to the four fair use factors to answer these questions. The determination of whether the use of a copyrighted work is within fair use depends upon making a reasoned and balanced application of the four fair use factors set forth in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act. The factor that is most appropriate to consider in your question is the third factor: The amount, substantiality, or portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. This factor requires consideration of 1) the proportion of the larger work that is copied and used, and 2) the significance of the copied portion. Usually, the larger the amount used, the less it can be considered as "fair" and acceptable under fair use rules.

A single copy may be made of any of the following by or for a teacher at his or her individual request for his or her scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

  1. A chapter from a book;
  2. An article from a periodical or newspaper;
  3. A short story, short essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work;
  4. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:

  1. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity
  2. Meets the cumulative effect test, and
  3. Each copy includes a notice of copyright.

The Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance informs us that:

Fair use is not a straightforward concept; therefore, any fair use analysis must be conducted on a case-by-case basis considering all four factors and the circumstances of the situation at hand.

Examples of fair use:

  • Quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work for illustration or clarification of the author's observations.
  • Spontaneous and unexpected reproduction of material for classroom use - for example, where an article in the morning's paper is directly relevant to that day's class topic.
  • A parody that includes short portions of a work.
  • A summary of an address or article, which may include quotations of short passages of the copyright-protected work.

If you are uploading pdfs to your Canvas classroom, for example, then you must also consider the TEACH Act guidelines:

Generally, to perform or display a work in your online class the work must be:

  • used under your supervision;
  • as an integral part of the class session;
  • as part of systematic mediated instructional activities (in a manner analogous to performances and displays in live classroom settings);
  • directly and materially related to the teaching content.

The work must be lawfully made and not excerpted from a product that was specifically designed and marketed for use in an online course. And, there are three additional requirements:

  • You must password protect or otherwise restrict access to your online class website to enrolled students, and
  • You must reasonably prevent your students from being able to save or print the work, i.e., control the "downstream" uses, and
  • You must include a general copyright warning on your class website.

Rather than uploading pdfs of articles to your Canvas classroom, it can be a safe option to provide links to websites or to the articles within library databases, the licenses to access the materials having been purchased by the library.

If access to materials is password protected, do I need to worry about copyright?

Yes. Using copyrighted materials in an online classroom requires that you adhere to the TEACH Act guidelines, which are that copyrighted materials are to be:

  • used under your supervision;
  • as part of the class session;
  • as part of systematic mediated instructional activities (in a manner analogous to performances and displays in live classroom settings);
  • directly and materially related to the teaching content.

The work must be lawfully made and not excerpted from a product that was specifically designed and marketed for use in an online course.

And, there are three additional requirements:

  • You must password protect or otherwise restrict access to your online class website to enrolled students, and
  • You must reasonably prevent your students from being able to save or print the work, i.e., control the "downstream" uses, and
  • You must include a general copyright warning on your class website.
Is it true that a student can make one copy of anything for educational purposes?

Not exactly. They are not permitted to copy an entire book or to copy a CD or a DVD. When students need a copy of a journal article, they can make one copy from a print journal or one printout of a pdf. It is not permissible for the student to create an archive or a library of these copies, whether in print or digital format. They also may not share the copy with, or make a copy for, another student or colleague.

Are my own materials protected from use without my permission, such as my powerpoints?

Yes, this can happen. The works you create are protected under copyright law as soon as you create them. Generally speaking, the person who creates a work is the author, and therefore the copyright owner of that work. However, there is an exception to this principle in Section 110 of the U.S. Copyright Act. The copyright law specifically designates a special category of works called "works made for hire." If a work is made for hire - i.e. it was prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment - then the employer, and not the employee, is considered the author. In such cases the employer may be a firm, an organization, or even a university.

Works Made for Hire Under the 1976 Copyright Act (U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 9)

Can I re-use copyright-cleared material in another course?

In previous times, you had to secure copyright permission for any article or book chapter that you wanted to use in your class, every time. Many larger colleges and universities who still use e-reserves systems request copyright permission every quarter, and for each class, through their libraries. But, due to fair use and the TEACH Act, if you are using copyrighted material in one online class and you choose to use it in another online class, it is not a problem as long as you follow all the rules.

Generally, to perform or display a work in your online class the work must be:

  • used under your supervision;
  • as part of the class session;
  • as an integral part of systematic mediated instructional activities (in a manner analogous to performances and displays in live classroom settings);
  • directly and materially related to the teaching content.

The work must be lawfully made and not excerpted from a product that was specifically designed and marketed for use in an online course.

And, there are three additional requirements:

  • You must password protect or otherwise restrict access to your online class website to enrolled students, and
  • You must reasonably prevent your students from being able to save or print the work, i.e., control the "downstream" uses, and
  • You must include a general copyright warning on your class website.

Rather than uploading pdfs of articles to your Canvas classroom, it can be a safe option to provide links to websites or to the articles within library databases, the licenses to access the materials having been purchased by the library.

How extensively do I need to cite a source if I use it in an online course? Where do I cite it if I have scanned a section of a book or article? Is there special credit that must be given to the creator of a YouTube video played in a class or placed in Canvas?

In general, it seems logical to cite it in each area where the material is used, just as if you were citing sources in a paper that you are writing. If you are using an image, cite the source in small letters beneath it. You can do the same for when you embed a video from YouTube, or if you are embedding a film clip from Films on Demand. For a pdf of a book chapter or article, you could choose to place the citation in the lecture material or text that you write that introduces the reading. Rather than uploading pdfs of articles to your Canvas classroom, it can be a safe option to provide links to publisher websites or to the articles within library databases, the licenses to access the materials having been purchased by the library.

At a minimum, a copyright notice should contain all the following three elements:

  1. The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), the word "Copyright" or the abbreviation "Copr."
  2. The year when the work was first created.
  3. The name of the owner of the copyright.

Example: © 2005 John Doe.

Is it okay to scan a resource, save it as a pdf and then use it again in the same online course or in another one?

If we are strictly following fair use and the TEACH Act rules, we are to remove any copyrighted material from the online classroom when the class is over. Then, you are to upload it again for your next section of the class. Kenneth Crews (2010) writes on the TEACH Act tenet regarding limited temporary retention of copies:

Limited temporary retention of copies. The statute explicitly exonerates educational institutions from liability that may result from most "transient or temporary storage of material." On the other hand, the statute does not allow anyone to maintain the copyrighted content "on the system or network" for availability to the students "for a longer period than is reasonably necessary to facilitate the transmissions for which it was made." Moreover, the institution may not store or maintain the material on a system or network where it may be accessed by anyone other than the "anticipated recipients." (p. 4).

Rather than uploading pdfs of articles to your Canvas classroom, it can be a safe option to provide links to publisher websites or to the articles within library databases, the licenses to access the materials having been purchased by the library.

Is it ok to use photos I "print screen" from the internet as long as it is only for my lecture PowerPoints?

The photos you get from the internet are copyright protected. Some may be open license and free to use through Creative Commons, but most have copyright restrictions. You should always place a citation for the photo on the PowerPoint slide. Fair use allows you to use the photos in an educational setting, and the TEACH Act allows you to use them in your Canvas classroom. But, you must restrict your students' ability to save or print the photos.

I am using my own material for course packs, which I plan to publish. Is there anything I should be concerned about with respect to the material having been distributed prior to formal copyright filing and/or publishing?

You should consult with your dean about intellectual property rights to see who holds the rights - you or the college. Has the course pack been created as an institutional work or as a personal effort? Typically, when you submit a manuscript for publication, the publisher will want to know if the manuscript has been published anywhere else, and they would want to know about any copyright holder other than you.

The works you create are protected under copyright law as soon as you create them. Generally speaking, the person who creates a work is the author, and therefore the copyright owner of that work. However, there is an exception to this principle in Section 110 of the U.S. Copyright Act. The copyright law specifically designates a special category of works called "works made for hire." If a work is made for hire - i.e. it was prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment - then the employer, and not the employee, is considered the author. In such cases the employer may be a firm, an organization, or even a university. You can read here on pages 49 and 50 of the faculty bargaining agreement for SPSCC's stance on this question.

Works Made for Hire Under the 1976 Copyright Act (U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 9)

If I use a powerpoint presentation that is provided with the textbook I am teaching from, can I modify and add my own slides to the presentation?

You can. You just need to be very clear about where each portion of the material is coming from. Be sure to write citation information into the slides whenever you are using textbook content.

What are the cautions on using open resource material in the class room?

Even if the materials are open resource, you still need to cite where you got the information and to state at which level the source is openly licensed. Review this page of the Creative Commons website for more information.

What are the specifics of fair use for educational purposes? What exactly constitutes fair use?

Here are links to a couple of great resources that can answer your questions:

Can I use sample files and presentations from a book I no longer use? Also, may I use photocopies of chapters of out of print books?

The content in the book, whether out of print or still in print, is copyright protected. Works pass from copyright protection when they move to the public domain. See Copyright Basics: What is Copyright Law? for more information about the duration of copyright and the public domain. You can use the sample files and presentations in the book according to copyright law, fair use, and if uploaded to an online classroom, the TEACH Act guidelines.