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Copyright: Home

Why Read About Copyright?

Copyright law can be complex, boring, vague, and frustrating. However, all patrons are responsible for any infringement on copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code) -- the law holds you accountable for complying with the law when you work with copyrighted materials.

This page introduces you to some general guidelines for actions are and are not allowed under copyright law. 

Copyright FAQs

Isn't educational use the same as fair use?

Unfortunately, no.  Using an item for an educational only counts towards one factor of fair use; you must consider all four of the factors to make a fair use determination.

Is it always fair use to use 10% or less of a work?

No.  Copyright law does not provide a percentage that would constitute fair use.  Generally, the smaller the amount used, the more likely it is that the use is fair.  However, the other factors must also be considered.

If something is freely online is it in the public domain?

No, it likely still has some sort of copyright protection. YouTube videos, blog posts, and even your class notes are automatically protected by copyright. That protection lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years! It's good practice to assume items you're using - whether print, audio, or video - have copyright protection.

What is Open Licensing?

Some authors and publishers are interested in loosening the restrictions that copyright law places on their readers. They may choose to offer their work under an open license, such as a Creative Commons license. These licenses allow people to re-use an original work, as long as certain criteria are met. Some authors may require re-users to use the materials only for non-commercial purposes, or to re-use it only without modifications. Many authors require re-users to attribute the material to the original author, which is a good scholarly practice anyway.

Some authors don’t want to place any restrictions on how their work is used. They may choose to dedicate the work to the public domain, for anybody to use as they see fit. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication is a popular way to do this.

What is Covered by Copyright

Copyright law applies to “original works of authorship.”  This includes creative and scholarly works, including books, articles, music, computer software, and movies. However, commonly known information, ideas, and short phrases are not covered by copyright law. To read more about what are considered original works of authorship, take a look at the Trotter Hardy’s overview of copyright and digital archives and the U.S. Copyright Office’s Copyright Basics document.

Some older works are no longer protected under copyright, and are considered part of the public domain. Almost all works published before 1923 are part of the public domain. Copyright law changed several times during the 20th century, and  has special considerations for works published anonymously, unpublished work, and works that were not copyrighted properly. The U.S. Copyright Office offers a more detailed guide to the Duration of Copyright, and Cornell University offers a helpful chart on Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States.

What is Fair Use?

You are free to reproduce and remix copyrighted materials if your use of the materials can be considered a "fair use."  Copyright law offers four factors to determine whether your use is "fair" or not:

  1. "The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purpose..."
    • If you are  copying this work for nonprofit educational purposes it is more likely that your use is fair use, but you still need to consider the other three factors.
  2. "The nature of the copyrighted work..."
    • If you are copying a factual work, your case is stronger than if it is a creative work.
  3. "The amount and sustainability of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted works as a whole..."
    • If you are copying only a small portion of the original work it is easier to claim fair use.
  4. "The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work."
    • If copying creates a serious negative impact on the sales or monetary value of the original work, even if you meet all three other fair use factors, your use may still be considered copyright infringement. 

How Many Pages Can I Scan or Copy?

Copyright law doesn't provide specific numbers of pages that are okay (or not okay) to copy or scan. Instead, there are some broad guidelines. If you follow these guidelines, it's likely that you will be protected by the fair use doctrine:

  • Copy or scan only what you need to complete your immediate assignments. Fair use has to be “appropriate in kind and amount.”
  • Be careful when copying fiction, art, music, poetry, films, and other creative works – they are protected more heavily than non-fiction.
  • Ask yourself if you are impacting the potential market for the work.Would you buy this book if you weren't able to scan or copy it?

Copyright for LBCC Faculty

According to LBCC Administrative Rules, each person is held individually responsible for following the established copyright policy and administrative rules. At LBCC, the Library has additional permissive uses of copyrighted materials. These provisions are contained in Section 108 of the US Copyright Law.

Recommendations

  • Don't copy a substantial amount from any one work. 
    • Use a small portion: one chapter, one poem, one article from a journal, or one image or graph from any particular work.
  • Use the minimum amount necessary to accomplish the pedagogical goal. 
    • You should be able to explain how each chapter or article relates to course outcomes or objectives.
  • Provide a citation for the work and a copyright notice.
  • Link rather than copy.
    • ‚ÄčEspecially when this is an option in digital environments (e.g. instructor websites, Moodle, etc.) 
  • Use library resources.
    • If the Libraries have subscription access to a particular article, a librarian can show you how to embed a stable link in your online course or syllabus.  
    • You can also put books on reserve at the Library.  
    • You could also check if there's an e-book available, or request that the Library purchase an e-book. 
  • Don't copy consumables. 
    • For instance tests, workbook sheets, etc.
  • When in doubt, get permission. 
    • If you need to copy a substantial amount of a copyrighted work, or if your use is in any other way impermissible, contact a librarian.

LBCC Policies Related to Copyright

For additional information please refer to LBCC's related Administrative Rules:

If you are a faculty member with questions about the ownership of your works, refer to the intellectual property section of your faculty contract.

Questions?

Michaela Willi Hooper's picture
Michaela Willi Hooper
Contact:
Albany Campus Library, WH-144
541-917-4660

Questions?

Ask a librarian if you are not sure about copying or scanning. We cannot provide legal advice, but can listen and discuss your project that includes copyrighted materials.

However, since you are more familiar with your project than we are, you are in the best position to evaluate these factors and make a decision.

Disclaimer

This site is intended for informational purposes only. Library staff cannot give legal advice. For legal advice, contact an intellectual property attorney.