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Copyright

This guide provides information and CCC resources on the topic of copyright.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection provided by the laws of the United States. Copyright protection is available for original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form, whether published or unpublished. The categories of works that can be protected by copyright laws include paintings, literary works, live performances, photographs, movies, and software.

The dictionary defines copyright as "a person's exclusive right to reproduce, publish, or sell his or her original work of authorship (as a literary, musical, dramatic, artistic, or architectural work)."

It's important to understand that copyright law covers the "form of material expression," not the actual concepts, ideas, techniques, or facts in a particular work. This is the reason behind why a work must be fixed in a tangible form in order to receive copyright protection. A couple examples of works being fixed in a tangible form include stories written on paper and original paintings on canvas.

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Additional Information

Quick Copyright Facts for Technology Users

* Most information on the Internet is not in the public domain.

* Most software, including freeware, is not in the public domain.

* A good way to determine whether a multimedia resource is copyright protected or in the public domain is to relate it as closely as possible to a print resource.

* Sometimes, asking permission is simply polite, even if you're not legally required to do so!

Education World

 

 

 

Public domain works are not restricted by copyright and do not require a license or fee to use.  Public domain status allows the user unrestricted access and unlimited creativity!

There are three main categories of public domain works:

  • Works that automatically enter the public domain upon creation, because they are not copyrightable:
    • Titles, names, short phrases and slogans, familiar symbols, numbers
    • Ideas and facts (e.g., the date of the Gettysburg Address)
    • Processes and systems
    • Government works and documents1
  • Works that have been assigned to the public domain by their creators
  • Works that have entered the public domain because the copyright on them has expired

Teaching Copyright

 

 

 

 

The Copyright Act gives copyright holders the exclusive right to reproduce works for a limited time period.  Fair use is a limitation on this right.  Fair use allows people other than the copyright owner to copy part or, in some circumstances, all of a copyrighted work, even where the copyright holder has not given permission or objects.

By carving out a space for creative uses of music, literature, movies, and so on, even while the works are protected by copyright, fair use helps to reduce a tension between copyright law and the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression.  The Supreme Court has described fair use as "the guarantee of breathing space for new expression within the confines of Copyright law."

Four Factors of Fair Use:

  • The purpose and character of the use of copyrighted work
    • Transformative quality - Is the new work the same as the copyrighted work, or have you transformed the original work, using it in a new and different way?
    • Commercial or noncommercial - Will you make money from the new work, or is it intended for nonprofit, educational, or personal purposes?  Commercial uses can still be fair uses, but courts are more likely to find fair use where the use is for noncommercial purposes.
  • The nature of the copyrighted work A particular use is more likely to be considered fair when the copied work is factual rather than creative.
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole How much of the copyrighted work did you use in the new work?  Copying nearly all of the original work, or copying its "heart," may weigh against fair use.  But "how much is too much" depends on the purpose of the second use.  Parodies, for example, may need to make extensive use of an original work to get the point across.2
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work This factor applies even if the original is given away for free.  If you use the copied work in a way that substitutes for the original in the market, that will weigh against fair use.  Uses of copyrighted material that serve a different audience or purpose are more likely to be considered fair.

These factors are guidelines, and they are not exclusive.  As a general matter, courts are often interested in whether or not the individual making use of a work has acted in good faith.

Teaching Copyright

 

"Orphan Works" probably comprise the majority of the records of 20th century culture. These works are still presumably under copyright (only works published before 1923 are conclusively in the public domain), but the copyright owner cannot be found. The default response of archivists, libraries, film restorers, artists, scholars, educators, publishers, and others is to drop copyrighted work unless it is clearly in the public domain. As a result, orphan works are not used in new creative efforts or made available to the public due to uncertainty over their copyright status, even when there is no longer anyone claiming copyright ownership, or the owner no longer has any objection to such use.

Center for the Study of the Public Domain

New Roles, Rules and Responsibilities for Academic Institutions

Signed by President Bush on November 2, 2002, the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act was the product of discussion and negotiation among academic institutions, publishers, library organizations and Congress. It offered many improvements over previous regulations, specifically by amending sections 110(2) and 112(f) of the U.S. Copyright Act. The following overview of the TEACH Act seeks to balance the perspectives of both copyright owners and content users, and provide guidance for today's academic institutions.

A Brief Guide to TEACH
Although copyright law generally treats digital and non-digital copyright-protected works in a similar manner, special digital uses, such as online distance learning and course management systems, require special attention. Some of the special copyright requirements of online distance learning are specifically addressed by the TEACH Act.

The TEACH Act facilitates and enables the performance and display of copyrighted materials for distance education by accredited, non-profit educational institutions (and some government entities) that meet the Act's qualifying requirements. Its primary purpose is to balance the needs of distance learners and educators with the rights of copyright holders. TEACH applies to distance education that includes the participation of any enrolled student, on or off campus.

Under TEACH:

TEACH Requirements
In exchange for unprecedented access to copyright-protected material for distance education, TEACH requires that the academic institution meet specific requirements for copyright compliance and education. For the full list of requirements, refer to the TEACH Act at www.copyright.gov/legislation/archive/.

In order for the use of copyrighted materials in distance education to qualify for the TEACH exemptions, the following criteria must be met:

What TEACH Does Not Allow
The new exemptions under TEACH specifically do not extend to:

It is also important to note that TEACH does not supersede fair use or existing digital license agreements.

Ultimately, it is up to each academic institution to decide whether to take advantage of the new copyright exemptions under TEACH. This decision should consider both the extent of the institution's distance-education programs and its ability to meet the education, compliance and technological requirements of TEACH.

Copyright Clearance Center

 

OCTOBER 2, 2013

by Lindsay Lavine

When the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) was created back in 1998, YouTube hadn’t yet been invented, and the words “content aggregation” weren’t commonly used. “The DMCA is a safe harbor for content aggregators,” explains Gary Adelman, a New York-based attorney with Davis Shapiro, who advises clients in a variety of copyright, trademark and entertainment matters.


The DMCA protects sites where users are encouraged to upload content such as music, video clips, recipes, and other creative material, while simultaneously providing content owners with a process to remove their content from a site to which they didn’t provide permission.

This often comes up with contests, where entrants are encouraged to upload content, such as an essay or photograph/video to enter. Any business that allows the uploading of content needs to have DMCA compliance language in its Terms of Use or Privacy Policy, Adelman says.

Who controls the content is key to whether DMCA protection applies, Adelman notes. A content provider cannot upload, edit, crop or change the content in any way, or they lose the “safe harbor” protection. Adelman notes that the DMCA originally was limited to service providers like AOL but courts have recently expanded the DMCA “safe harbor” protection to include content aggregators like YouTube. 

Here’s how it works: Before a user may upload content to sites like YouTube, they must state they own or have permission from the copyright owner to upload the content. If the copyright owner did not provide permission, they (the owner) may notify YouTube by sending a Copyright Infringement Notification or a “takedown” notice.

The notice contains specific information such as:
1) The electronic or physical signature of the copyright owner.
2) Identification of the copyrighted work.
3) A description of and link to the infringing content.
4) The owner’s name and contact information.
5) A sworn statement that he/she is the owner, and did not provide permission for the content to be uploaded to the site.

Once the notice is received, the site must take down the allegedly infringing content, and notify the party that posted the content of the infringement notice. The party that uploaded the content may then file a counter-notice requesting the content be reinstated (assuming they’re the owner of the content), and the content may be restored to the site.

The counter-notice must contain:
1) The electronic or physical signature of the person that uploaded the content.
2) Identification of the content that was removed and where on the site it appeared before removal.
3) A sworn statement that the content was mistakenly removed.
4) the uploader’s contact information.

If, in the example of a contest, the website owner receives a DMCA takedown notice, takes the content in question down and notifies the person who uploaded the content of the complaint, the website owner is DMCA-compliant and the DMCA is an affirmative defense to a copyright infringement claim, Adelman explains.

“It comes down to who controls the content,” Adelman says. “If you do, the courts have been very clear that you don’t get these protections.” So, a word to the wise: if you’re planning a contest or promotion where you’re asking users to upload content, take a good look at the DMCA or, better yet, speak with a copyright attorney, as the law in this area is evolving.

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