Copyright: What you need to know

PrintEmail

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 15:56 Hits: 20031

Copyright: What You Need to Know

The Hawley Library realizes the challenges of using and creating classroom resources in a way that is both convenient and ethical. Especially in this new digital landscape, navigating the sometimes byzantine maze of copyright laws can seem overwhelming. We know that our teachers and administrators want to model good citizenship in their use of copyrighted materials, and that we all want students to develop a respect for the work of others.

To that end, we have compiled this easy-to-follow guide, adapted from Carol Simpson’s Copyright for Schools (4th edition). In addition, the library is happy to help answer questions about ethical and legal use of materials, and can provide forms and resources to aid you in seeking permissions to use copyrighted works.

The Copyright Act of 1976 (title 17 of the United States Code, Public Law 94-553, 90 Stat. 2541), and its several amendments, is the law of the land concerning the use and protections of copyrighted material. Section 106 of title 17 defines the rights of a copyright holder as the rights of:

  • Reproduction
  • Adaptation
  • Distribution
  • Public Performance
  • Public Display
  • Digital Transmission of Sound Recordings
Any infringement of these rights—either actual or statutory—is an actionable offense that can result in penalties of tens of thousands of dollars. (Fines for infringement of software copyright—a felony—can be as high as $250,000). You can see a list of some copyright actions against schools here.


Copyright Information for:

For Teachers    

For Students    

For Librarians

For Teachers

Public Domain

Works in the public domain are not protected by copyright, and may be used in any capacity. Keep in mind that adaptations of public domain materials (like the book Wicked, or the new Alice in Wonderland movie) are not in the public domain, and do have copyright restrictions.

Public domain materials include:

  • Works that are not considered “creative”, i.e. facts, lists, etc.
  • Works not created by a person.
  • Works created by the federal government employees as a part of their job, including presidential speeches, acts of Congress, government web pages, and materials prepared by government agencies.
  • Works whose copyright has expired, whose copyright notice was defective, or whose copyright was not renewed.
  • All works published before January 1, 1923. (Note: versions of out-of-copyright work may include material that is in current copyright, such as illustrations or prefaces.)
  • Materials released to the public domain by the author(s).
*Find works in the public domain: Pub Domain ; Public Domain Works ; and Creative Commons.

Fair Use

Section 107 of title 17, United States Code, Public Law 94-553, 90 Stat. 2541 defines fair use exceptions to the law regarding copyright protections. It lays out the “four tests of fair use”, which are:

  1. Is the material to be used for nonprofit educational purposes?
  2. Is the material to be used for the purposes of criticism, commentary, or news reporting?
  3. What portion of the copyrighted material will be used? Does it constitute the “essence of the work”.
  4. Will use of the copyrighted material damage its commercial or intrinsic value?
Sections 107-122 of title 17 address fair use and other exclusions to copyrights, and include reports and guidelines to both assist educators and address the concerns of producers of frequently infringed works. These guidelines serve as a minimum benchmark for use of copyrighted material, and are a defense against infringement suits by non-profits. If there is a question or issue not covered here, you can read the code in its entirety , or ask a librarian for assistance. Meantime, copyright restrictions teachers are most likely to encounter are outlined below.

Print

  • Copies must carry a notice of copyright.
  • A teacher may copy, or have copied, a single page of:
    • A chapter from a book;
    • An article from a periodical or newspaper;
    • A short story, essay, or poem
    • A chart, graph, diagram, drawing cartoon, or picture from a print source.
  • A teacher may not make more than one copy per student of a single item.
  • Copies must be for classroom use or for discussion.
  • Copied materials must be used for only one course.
  • No more than three articles from the same periodical volume may be copied in a single term.
  • Teachers may not copy “consumable” materials, i.e. worksheets, test booklets, etc.
  • Copies may not be used to create or replace an anthology, nor substitute for a book or text.
  • Only a teacher can copy, or ask for copies—an administrator, supervisor, curriculum director or department head cannot request a teacher make copies of copyrighted materials.
  • Special considerations are provided for copying for handicapped students, addressed in title 17, section 121.

AV Materials

  • Under fair use, videos in the classroom must be used only as part of face-to-face instruction, and not for reward, relaxation, or general enrichment.
  • Off-air tapings must include copyright information (usually included in the credits).
  • A teacher may not tape, or ask to have taped, the same program multiple times.
  • A taped program may be kept for no more than 45 calendar days. Students may only view the tape within the first ten school days; the other 35 days can be used only for evaluation of the program by the teacher.
  • After 45 days, the taping must be destroyed.
  • Cable and satellite channels may have their own rules regarding off-air taping; check program guides for specific details.
  • Teachers may not make back-up copies of any audio visual materials for any reason.
  • Audio recordings have all the same restrictions as visual works.


Multimedia

  • A notice that copyrighted materials are used should appear at the beginning of the production.
  • Proper citation of copyrighted material must be included in multimedia presentations, both in-context and in a works cited section.
  • One copy may be made of the original multimedia production; additional copies may be made only if one becomes damaged or is stolen.
  • Limits of quantity in the use of copyrighted works must be observed.
  • Moving pictures (TV, movie, etc.): up to 10% or three minutes—whichever is less—may be used.
  • Long texts (novels, short stories, etc.): up to 10% or 1000 words—whichever is less.
  • Poems less than 250 words may be used in their entirety; only three pieces by one poet, or five by different poets, may be used.
  • Music, including lyrics and music videos: up to 10% but not more than thirty seconds of a single work.
  • Illustrations and photographs: no more than five images from a single artist or photographers, and no more than 10% or 15 images from a single collective work.
  • A teacher may retain a student’s multimedia production for no more than two years.
  • A multimedia production in which all of the content is created by the students or teacher is, in essence “owned” by the creator. As such, a teacher may not use a student-created production without the student’s permission.

Guidelines governing the fair use limitations of using multimedia in the classroom were formulated by the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) in 1997. The completed report, titled Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia, is available from the University of Texas.

How Do I Get Permission to Use Copyrighted Work?

To obtain permission to reproduce or use copyrighted print materials, contact the publisher, whose information is usually found on the back of the title page. If no publisher is available, or if the company is no longer in business, contact the author. You may also use the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), a service set up by Congress to facilitate gaining copyright permissions.

To obtain copyright clearance for film and video, contact the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation or the Movie Licensing USA. Music licensing can be found through ASCAP, BMI or the Harry Fox Agency.
When requesting the right to use copyrighted material, include the following information:

  • Author or editor, title, date, and edition
  • An exact description of the material, including how much will be used, page numbers, scenes or footage, chapters, or other pertinent information.
  • The number of copies you plan to make.
  • Purpose of the copies.
  • How the copies will be distributed or used (e.g. in class, school newspaper, etc.).
  • Cost of the materials to recipients, if any.
  • How the material will be copied, if at all (e.g. photocopy, digital photo, etc.).

Make sure you submit your request in plenty of time to receive an answer—a month to six weeks at least. The library is happy to help you put together your request.


For Students

Public Domain

Works in the public domain are not protected by copyright, and may be used in any capacity. Keep in mind that adaptations of public domain materials (like the book Wicked, or the new Alice in Wonderland movie) are not in the public domain, and do have copyright restrictions.
Public domain materials include:

  • Works that are not considered “creative”, i.e. facts, lists, etc.
  • Works not created by a person.
  • Works created by the federal government employees as a part of their job, including presidential speeches, acts of Congress, government web pages, and materials prepared by government agencies.
  • Works whose copyright has expired, whose copyright notice was defective, or whose copyright was not renewed.
  • All works published before January 1, 1923. (Note: versions of out-of-copyright work may include material that is in current copyright, such as illustrations or prefaces.)
  • Materials released to the public domain by the author(s).
*Find works in the public domain: Pub Domain ; Public Domain Works ; and Creative Commons.

Fun Fact: The film It’s a Wonderful Life entered into the public domain in 1974 because the studio that produced it failed to renew its copyright, back when that sort of thing was required. For awhile, the film was available to copy, modify, and rebroadcast on TV for free and without limitation. The marketplace was flooded with poor-quality bootlegs, bad colorized versions, and heavily edited hatchet jobs. By the 1980's, frequent TV rebroadcasting had turned what was a box office flop into a holiday tradition.
It was only through some legal wrangling that Republic Pictures was able to curb this free-for-all. First, the studio realized it still held the rights to the short story It’s a Wonderful Life was based on. A 1990 Supreme Court ruling established protections for derivative works—that is, movies based on books and short stories—which limits its public domain appeal. Second, just to be safe, Republic Pictures bought the rights to the movie’s soundtrack. Finally, the movie studio was able to make money again on this classic film.

Fair Use

Section 107 of Title 17, United States Code, Public Law 94-553, 90 Stat. 2541 defines fair use exceptions to the law regarding copyright protections. It lays out the “four tests of fair use”, which are:

  1. Is the material to be used for nonprofit educational purposes?
  2. Is the material to be used for the purposes of criticism, commentary, or news reporting?
  3. What portion of the copyrighted material will be used? Does it constitute the “essence of the work”?
  4. Will use of the copyrighted material damage its commercial or intrinsic value?

A simple rule of thumb to remember is this: when you are preparing to use someone else’s work, ask yourself, “What if everybody did what I am planning to do?” Would someone lose money? Would the integrity of their work be altered? Think about how you would feel if other people used your hard work without asking permission. This is why we have copyright laws.

Multimedia

Most of you have made, or will be asked to make, a multimedia production at some point. You may make your own mash-ups and uploaded them to YouTube, or you may have to create a PowerPoint presentation for social studies class. Either way, there are limits to how much of other people’s stuff you can use—whether its music, video, or the written word.
These rules apply to use of multimedia for school purposes; laws governing entertainment uses of copyrighted material are much stricter, as anyone who has had content removed from YouTube can tell you. To make life easier for you, try and use media that is in the public domain. But if you absolutely must use copyrighted stuff, follow these guidelines to make sure you're keeping it legit.

  • A notice that copyrighted materials are used should appear at the beginning of the production.
  • Proper citation of copyrighted material must be included in multimedia presentations, both in-context and in a works cited section.
  • One copy may be made of the original multimedia production; additional copies may be made only if one becomes damaged or is stolen.
  • Limits of quantity in the use of copyrighted works must be observed:
  • Moving pictures (TV, movie, etc.): up to 10% or three minutes—whichever is less—may be used.
  • Long texts (novels, short stories, etc.): up to 10% or 1000 words—whichever is less.
  • Poems less than 250 words may be used in their entirety; only three pieces by one poet, or five by different poets, may be used.
  • Music, including lyrics and music videos: up to 10% but not more than thirty seconds of a single work.
  • Illustrations and photographs: no more than five images from a single artist or photographers, and no more than 10% or 15 images from a single collective work.
  • Your teacher can keep your multimedia production for no more than two years.
  • A multimedia production in which all of the content is created by you is, in essence, owned by you. A teacher will not be able to use or show it without your permission.


Special Consideration for Libraries

The following exceptions to copyright and Fair Use apply for libraries and librarians:

  • A “display warning of copyright” should be posted at all printing and copying stations.
  • Under section 108, libraries may photocopy and tip in a page if it is missing ot damaged beyond use.
  • Libraries may make copies of entire works if the original has been lost or damaged beyond use, and a replacement cannot be purchased at a reasonable cost, or is in a format that is obsolete. (N.B. VHS tapes are not considered an obsolete format.)
  • Copies of some ILL materials is allowed, subject to CONTU guidelines.
  • Librarians may copy for patrons, or patrons may copy for themselves, pages or articles for patrons only if the items are to be used for research or educational purposed; libraries may not keep the copied material.
  • Vertical files may include only original materials; copies of works are not permitted unless the original is lost or damaged beyond use.
  • The ALA Model Policy Concerning College and University Photocopying for Classroom Research and Library Reserve offers guidelines for the use of copies for reserved materials. These guidelines include:
    • A single copy of a book chapter, entire article, or a single poem may be copied.
    • There should be no more than six copies created.
    • All copies must carry a notice of copyright.
    • For best practice, the library should own an original of the copied material.