Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if something is copyrighted?

Copyright protections are given to any original work that is “fixed in any tangible medium of expression at the work’s creation.” Facts, ideas, U.S. government works and any work published before 1923 are considered public domain.

Read: Copyright Ownership

How do I know whether my use of copyrighted materials is protected under the “Fair Use” clause of the Copyright Act?

Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows the public to make limited uses of copyrighted works without permission. Fair use may not be what you expect. Therefore, do not assume that a nonprofit, educational use or giving credit for the source of the work, or that limiting access to materials to students in the class creates an inherent fair use. Fair use depends on a balancing of four factors, which may be addressed by a variety of means.

Read: Fair Use

What are the differences between standard/electronic reserves and coursepacks in terms of the Copyright Act?

On a practical basis the difference between standard/electronic reserves and coursepacks is disappearing, but there are still some legal differences...

Read: Standard Electronic Reserves and Coursepacks

How Does Fair Use Apply to Course Reserves?

The general standards designed to give fair use some practical application also apply in the area of standard/electronic reserves...

Read: Standard Electronic Reserves and Coursepacks

Are there alternative methods for information delivery that I should consider?

You may want to consider alternative methods of providing students with materials for various reasons. For instance, some copyright owners may routinely deny permission for their works to be accessible in electronic form, or it may be more effective, both in terms of time and money, to use an alternative delivery system.

Read: Standard Electronic Reserves and Coursepacks

Is it permissible for me to show a DVD or video tape to my class that I rented or bought?

The performance or display of a copyrighted work by instructors or students in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or “similar place devoted to instruction” is permissible.

Read: Audiovisual Works

How is a “classroom or similar place devoted to instruction” defined?

Unfortunately, the law at present does not define what a “similar place devoted to instruction” means.

Read: Audiovisual Works

What if I want to stream a video or DVD so that my students may view it outside of class time, but for purposes of a particular course?'''

Instructors may show audiovisual works in an online instructional environment so long as certain conditions are met...

Read: Audiovisual Works

Can I legally show a DVD from another region or a video tape in a different format?

It is permissible to watch a lawfully obtained copy of a non-region 1 DVD on a non-region 1 DVD player or to reset the region code setting of DVD-ROM drives in computers and to view alternative video tape formats on multi-format players.

Read: Audiovisual Works

Can I repost items I find on the web without having to worry about copyright? Isn’t all of that stuff in the public domain?

Many people mistakenly assume that everything posted on the Internet is in the public domain. It is vital for you to know that current copyright law gives legal protection to nearly all text, images, audiovisual recordings, and other materials that are posted on the Internet, even if the original works do not include any statement about copyright.

Read: Posting and Using Items on the Web

How does Fair Use apply to Sakai?

There are many issues related to Sakai and the balancing of four fair use factors outlined in the copyright statutes...

Read: Sakai Course Management and Fair Use