Copyright is the right granted by law to an author or another creator to control use of the work created. The copyright law grants owners of copyright (authors and other creators and publishers) the sole right to do, or allow others to do, each of the following acts with regard to their copyrighted works: to reproduce all or part of the work; to distribute copies; to prepare new (derivative) versions based on the original work; and to perform and display the work publicly.

Copyright protection covers both published and unpublished works. The fact that a previously published work is out of print does not affect its copyright.

Fair Use Doctrine

"Fair use" under the US copyright law permits limited use of portions of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Section 107 of the Copyright Act establishes four basic factors to be considered in deciding whether a use constitutes a fair use.

These factors are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

No one factor determines a person's right to use a copyrighted work without permission.

Electronic Media

The Federal Copyright law protects electronic media. By protecting the investment of computer software companies in software development and those who provide their work online, the copyright law serves the cause of promoting broad public availability of new and innovative products.

The law says that anyone who purchases a copy of software has the right to load that copy onto a single computer and to make another copy for "archival" purposes only. It is illegal to use that software on more than one computer or to make or distribute copies of that software for any other purpose, unless specific permission has been obtained from the copyright owner. If you pirate software you may face not only a civil suit for damages and other relief but criminal liability as well including fines and jail terms of up to one year.

Print Media

The following guidelines are offered for classroom copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions with respect to books and periodicals.

Single Copying for Teachers

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 for each 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 collective work;
  4. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper.

Multiple Copies for Classroom Use

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:

The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined below; meets the cumulative effect test as defined below; and each copy includes a notice of copyright.


Notwithstanding any of the above the following shall be prohibited.

  1. Copying shall not be used to create or to replace or substitute for an anthology, its compilations or collective works. Such replacement or substitution may occur whether copies of various works or excerpts therefrom are accumulated or are reproduced and used separately.
  2. There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or teaching. These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets, and answer sheets and like consumable material.
  3. Copying shall not:
    1. substitute for the purchase of books, publishers reprints, or periodicals;
    2. be directed by higher authority; or
    3. be repeated with respect to the same time by the same teacher from term to term
  4. No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of photocopying.
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