Librarian, Empire State College
The librarians can direct you to
copyright information resources,
such as where to look up the
copyright owner of a certain work
or how to determine if something
is fair use or public domain.
We can’t get permission/licenses
Above all, we can’t give legal
A fact or idea can’t be copyrighted
What can be copyrighted is the
unique expression of facts and
some element of creativity, analysis,
interpretation, organization from the
The work doesn’t need to be
published or registered anywhere
It’s copyrighted as soon as it’s
“fixed in a tangible medium of
On paper, film/tape, in stone
In any digital format, including email and
Sculpted into ice? Written on a
What matters is that there’s a
means of transmitting the
information from one person to
another across time and space
The right to make copies
The right to distribute copies
for profit or not
The right to make derivative works
and make copies of them and
The right to assign the copyright to
Sequels, spinoffs, supplemental
conversions to a new format
If a work is in the public domain,
copyright no longer applies to it.
You don’t need to ask permission to
You don’t need to pay royalties
Most works fall into the public
domain because they have reached
a certain age
Authored works: add 70 years to the
author’s death date
Anonymous and corporate works: add 95
years to publication date
works: add 120 years to creation date
Used to be shorter
Different for non-US publications
Publications of the federal
government are put immediately
into the public domain
Use this tool to find out whether a
certain work is still under
Fair Use exists to promote kinds of
use that the law considers
beneficial to society.
Using Fair Use is good!
Fair Use is a legal defense. It
basically means “The infringement
met the criteria, so there’s no
Those criteria are called the four
Purpose of the use
Good: education, research, scholarship,
criticism, commentary, news reporting, a
single copy for personal use,
Bad: anything else, including art and
Nature and character of the work
Good: published works, non-fiction
Not so good: unpublished works, creative
Amount and substantiality of the
Good: a tiny amount
Not so good: more than you need; most
or all of the work
VERY BAD: the “heart and soul” of the
Effect on the market for the
original work and derivative works
VERY BAD: any
You absolutely can save a PDF or
make a photocopy!
But you can’t share it with
anybody, including your students
So you can’t use interlibrary loan to get
items to share with your students.
Also you can’t break copy
protection or bypass access
controls (more on that later)
A transformative work is what
happens when a derivative work
has completely different purpose
from the original.
Can’t be mistaken for the original.
Can’t substitute for the original.
Adding explanation or commentary to a
video or image
Putting thumbnail images in a timeline
Translating a work, revising it, or putting it
in a new format
Using a song as background music a video
Parodies are protected by Fair Use!
Weak protection: tweaking the
original work to be a commentary
on something else
Weird Al songs (he actually gets
Strong protection: tweaking the
original work to comment on itself
Actually Ironic (they rewrote Alanis
Morissette’s Isn’t It Ironic so all the
examples are actually ironic.)
You can use this worksheet to
determine if what you want to do
is Fair Use: http://bit.ly/12LxKQY
Keep a copy as documentation
Face-to-face classroom only
Educational purposes only
No extra-curricular activities
No faculty development, conferences,
Allows performance and display of
Movies and TV
You can show whole works, but
you should only show what you
ESC is now TEACH Act compliant!
It acts like the Educational Use
exemption, but for online courses
Images, audio and video!
This is not a way to distribute readings.
It has to be inside the LMS. No
external web sites or Web 2.0 tools
You have to clearly mark or caption
State that it’s copyrighted
Attribute the original source
If it’s a fictional or dramatic work,
keep it to a minimum. If it’s a non-
fictional work, you can use the
It can’t be pirated, bootlegged, etc.
It has to be a legal copy, legally
It’s ok to digitize physical media that you
own, but only if there isn’t a born-digital
version to buy or subscribe to.
The library signs license
agreements in order to subscribe
to information resources
Those license agreements allow
access but also have restrictions:
They prohibit us from allowing access to
alumni, emeritus professors, or students
or faculty of other colleges
Some allow uploading their content to the
LMS; many do not
Getting permission is synonymous
with getting a license
There is no exact wording or
format, but you need to get it in
writing. Document everything!
If you can’t find the copyright
owner, you can’t get permission.
It’s not ok to use the work anyway.
Expect this to take time – maybe
even several months
Sometimes there will be an online
form to fill out. Other times, you
will need to send a letter
Use email or mail, whichever seems more
likely to get an answer
Which work are you using? How much?
What are you using it for? (EDUCATION!)
For how long?
How big is the potential audience?
How are you protecting it?
Instructions for identifying and
locating the copyright owner
A sample letter with a license for
them to fill out
Permission to use published
articles and books generally costs
about 35 cents per page per
Permission to use big media
(movie, TV and music industry)
tends to be expensive.
Things produced for the
educational market (textbooks,
workbooks, educational films) are
also very expensive.
Permission to use unpublished web
materials is sometimes granted for
free because it’s educational.
Protects the college from liability if
faculty, staff or students infringe
The individual faculty, staff and
students are not protected from
In exchange, the college has to
comply with DMCA takedown
If you have infringing material in a
course, web site, blog, etc. then
the copyright owner or their
designee can send a takedown
notice to our copyright agent
Our copyright agent (the VP of OIT)
has to remove the content
immediately, which in practical
terms, means that your site comes
The law does not allow
investigation or notification before
the material is taken down.
You have the right to issue a
counterclaim and put your
course/page/blog back up as is,
but if you do so, the copyright
owner has 14 days to file a lawsuit
against you in federal court
The safer option is to edit your
course/page/blog so that it’s no
longer infringing, and then it will
be put back up
Contact a lawyer first!
Prohibits attempting to break or
bypass either access controls or
Even if it would otherwise be legal
to make a copy (fair use) you can’t
break in to do it!
There are a few exemptions that
allow breaking/bypassing copy
Making ebooks accessible for blind people
Film studies professors can make
compilations of clips
There are no exemptions that
allow breaking/bypassing access
The Creative Commons is a system
of licenses that authors can opt
They work within copyright law to
allow users automatic permission
to do certain things that would
normally be prevented by
Making and sharing copies
Some allow making derivative works ;
Some allow commercial use; others don’t
Open Textbooks and OER are
Creative Commons licensed
The most important thing when
using a work that’s got a Creative
Commons license is to know and
abide by the terms of that
Or else you’re infringing on the copyright!