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Information about copyright compliance

What Is Copyright?

U.S. copyright law, as defined by the Copyright Act of 1976 (also known as Title 17), grants authors, publishers, and creators control of the distribution, use, and performance of their original work. Title 17 grants copyright owners sole right to do or allow others to do each of the following acts with regard to their copyrighted work:

  • reproduce all or part of the work
  • distribute copies of the work
  • derive new versions based on the original work
  • perform and/or display the work publicly

U.S. copyright law protects an author's, publisher's, and/or creator's interests in his/her own work.

Fair Use (1976):

The “Fair Use” clause, Section 107 of Title 17, provides four criteria to be used in determining appropriate use of copyrighted material. These include:

  • The nature of use, including whether that use is for a commercial or non-profit purpose
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount of the work to be used in relationship to the work as a whole
  • The effect of the use on the potential market of the work

In order for the reproduction and/or use of a work to comply with the “Fair Use” clause, that use must meet all four of the above criteria. Under “Fair Use,” institutions are advised to seek permission for any protected material before it is used outside of the scope of the copyright owner.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998):

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) amends Title 17 in order to include an anti-circumvention clause stipulating that internal controls placed on protected materials may not be bypassed in order to replicate those works. In addition, the DMCA includes a provision that excludes Internet Service Providers from liability if/when circumvention of those internal controls occurs. This places liability directly back on the individual(s) and/or institutions responsible for the violation.

TEACH Act (2002):

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act was written as a means of defining and clarifying internal measures that must be taken in order for institutions to be compliant with the provisions of the Copyright Act. TEACH acknowledges that print and digital content may not always be accessed and utilized in the same manner, and expands “Fair Use” compliance requirements to specifically address the use of protected materials in the online learning environment.

In order to utilize the protections offered to colleges and universities under TEACH, institutions must meet the following criteria:

  • The institution must be an accredited, non-profit educational institution.
  • The use must be a part of mediated instructional activities.
  • The use must be limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific course.
  • The use must either be for “live” or asynchronous class sessions.
  • The use must not include the transmission of materials “typically purchased or acquired by students” (such as textbooks) or works developed specifically for online instructional uses.
  • Only “reasonable and limited portions” of a work, such as might be performed in a live classroom setting, may be used.
  • The institution must have developed and publicized its copyright policies. This includes notifying students that material in the course may be copyright protected and including a notice of copyright on the online materials.
  • The institution must implement technological measures to ensure compliance beyond just assigning a password to protect the materials. This can include IP checking, content timeouts, cut and paste disabling, print/download restrictions, etc.

The exemptions under the TEACH Act do not apply to the following:

  • Electronic reserves, coursepacks, or InterLibrary Loan
  • Commercial document delivery (such as articles purchased through JSTOR)
  • Textbooks or other digital content provided under license
  • Conversion of materials from print to digital formats unless this conversion is for “authorized transmissions” and when a digital version of a work is unavailable.

While U.S. copyright law concentrates primarily on the rights of the owner, the DMCA and TEACH both focus on not only preserving those rights but on protecting students, faculty, and the university from accidental copyright infringement. This is done through continuous outreach and training throughout the university.

What Materials Are Protected by Copyright?

Copyright protects both published and unpublished works. A work’s “out of print” status does not exclude it from copyright protection. Copyright guidelines apply even if a copyright notice does not appear within a work.

Copyright restrictions apply to works readily available on the Internet unless specifically stipulated by the resource’s author, creator, and/or publisher. Such stipulations may be stated in a Creative Commons attribution or other statement of authority appearing on or with the work.

What Materials Are Not Protected by Copyright?

Copyright protection does not extend to works that appear in the public domain. “Public Domain” is defined as works which belong to or are available to the public as a whole where no exclusive rights for creation or modification exist. These include the following, for which copyright permission is not required:

  • Works for which the copyright has expired
  • Works for which the copyright was lost
  • Certain works produced by a federal government employee within the scope of his/her employment
  • Works which do not meet the copyright requirements of originality to qualify for copyright. This includes standard calendars, height/weight charts, rulers, etc.

Copyright Policies at Tiffin University

Tiffin University requires faculty, staff, and students to comply with all federal regulations related to copyright and the protection of intellectual property, including Title 17 and the TEACH Act. The University recognizes its obligation to inform members of the campus community about copyright law and the appropriate use of copyright-protected materials. All members of the University community are responsible for complying with University guidelines regarding the legal use of copyrighted materials, regardless of their format or the purpose of that use, and for complying with the requirements of copyright law. This includes compliance with University acceptable use policies, licensing restrictions, and permissions procedures where applicable. Faculty, staff, and students shall not exercise any rights under copyright law in a work owned by others unless those stipulations fall within the parameters allowed by Title 17 and the TEACH Act. In addition, members of the Tiffin University community who willfully disregard this policy do so at their own risk and assume any liability, which may include criminal and/or civil penalties.

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