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protection is available for original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form, whether published or unpublished.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.
Image Credit: BlueDiamondGallery
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!
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:
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:
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Discover eBook collections or find print books/materials through the catalog for each campus:
American Library Association Fair Use Guidelines
Fair use is the exception to the rights granted by copright law to the author of a creative work. Learn more about the four factors of fair use here.
A not-for-profit organization providing collective copyright licensing services to help organizations comply with the U.S. Copyright Law, ease permission burdens and consilidate payments for rights holders.
A flowchart for determining when U.S. copyright in fixed works expires.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States digital rights management (DRM law enacted October 28, 1998.) The intent behind DMCA was to create an updated version of copyright laws to deal with the special challenges of regulating digital material.
To help you better understand how to determine the "fairness" of a use under he U.S. Copyright Code.
The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act was the production of discussion and negotiation among academic institutions, publishers, library organizations and Congress with the Purpose of balancing the perspectives of both copyright owners and content users, and provide guidance for today's academic institutions.
A source for a wide range of copyright information. Includes brochures, circulars and fact sheets. Links to the full text of the U.S. Copyright Law are included.
Learn about what copyright involves, including what types of works are subject to copyright protection.
Disney Parody explanation of Copyright Law and Fair Use.