Copyright & Electronic
What Is Copyright?
Handbook defines copyright as "a legal device that provides the creator of
a work of art or literature, or a work that conveys information or ideas, the
right to control how the work is used."The purpose of copyright is to protect
the economic rights of creators, whether they are writers, musicians, or
artists. Copyright means that creators have the right to be acknowledged and
paid for use of their work.
What Can be Copyrighted?
expressions can be copyrighted. A presentation that is not recorded in some
physical medium (print, photography, etc.) cannot be copyrighted. However,
anything that is tangible can be copyrighted. There are three fundamental
requirements for something to be copyrighted:
- The item must be fixed
in some way. The fixation may be just about anything. For example, a piece
of paper, a computer disk, a audiotape, or a videotape are all legitimate
forms of fixation.
- The work must be
original. Originality includes a novel or a student's e-mail message to a
professor. Both are considered examples of original expression.
- It is not necessary for
the work to be completely original. Works may be combined, adapted, or
transformed in new ways that would make them eligible for copyright
- Minimal Creativity:
- The work must include
something that is above and beyond the original. Verbatim use is not
considered original. Reference to the original work that is used to discuss
a new concept would be considered original, however.
- Creativity need only be
extremely slight for the work to be eligible for protection.
What Cannot be Protected by
- Works in the public
- Ideas are in the public
domain. Facts are in
the public domain. Words, names, slogans, or other short phrases also cannot be
copyrighted. However, slogans, for example, can be protected by trademark
law. Blank forms.
Works created by federal government employees as part of their
- Judicial opinions.
- Works for which
copyright wasn't obtained or copyright has expired (extremely rare!).
What Does Copyright Protect?
The four basic protections
- The right to make copies
of the work. The right
to sell or otherwise distribute copies of the work. The right to prepare new works based
on the protected work.
- The right to perform the
protected work (such as a stage play or painting) in public.
What is Fair
Fair use is the most
significant limitation on the copyright holder's exclusive rights. The
individual who wants to use a copyrighted work must weigh four factors: The
purpose and character of the use:
- Is the new work merely a
copy of the original? If it is simply a copy, it is not as likely to be
considered fair use. Does the new work offer something above and beyond the original? Does
it transform the original work in some way? If the work is altered
significantly, used for another purpose, appeals to a different audience, it
more likely to be considered fair use.
- Is the use of the
copyrighted work for nonprofit or educational purposes? The use of copyrighted
works for nonprofit or educational purposes is more likely to be considered
The nature of the copyrighted
- Is the copyrighted work a
published or unpublished works? Unpublished works are less likely to be
considered fair use. Is
the copyrighted work out of print? If it is, it is more likely to be
considered fair use.
- Is the work factual or
artistic? The more a work tends toward artistic expression, the less likely it
will be considered fair use.
The amount and substantiality
of the portion used:
- The more you use, the less
likely it will be considered fair use. Does the amount you use exceed a reasonable expectation?
If it approaches 50 percent of the entire work, it is likely to be considered
an unfair use of the copyrighted work.
- Is the particular portion
used likely to adversely affect the author's economic gain? If you use the
"heart" or "essence" of a work, it is less likely your use will be considered
The effect of use on the
potential market for the copyrighted work:
- The more the new work
differs from the original, the less likely it will be considered an
infringement. Does the
work appeal to the same audience as the original? If the answer is yes, it
will likely be considered an infringement.
- Does the new work contain
anything original? If it does, it is more likely the use of the copyrighted
material will be seen as fair use.
Rules for Fair Use for
Copying by teachers must meet
the tests of brevity and spontaneity:
- Brevity refers to how much
of the work you can copy.
- Spontaneity refers to how
many times you can copy.
According to the rule, the
need to copy should occur closely in time to the need to use the copies. If an
instructor uses something for one semester it is likely to be seen as fair
use. If an instructor uses material repeatedly, it's less likely to be
considered fair use. The expectation is that you will obtain permission as
soon as it is feasible. Using something over a period of years is not within
the spirit of the guidelines.
- "Works that combine
language and illustrations and which are intended sometimes for children and
at other times for a general audience." A child's book is an example.
Special works should
never be copied in their entirety.
- An excerpt of no more than
two pages or 10 percent, whichever is less, is the rule for special works.
The use of the copies should
be for one course at one school. The copies should include a notice of copyright
acknowledging the author of the work. NOTE: It is recommended that teachers,
faculty, or instructors consider both the special guidelines for instructor and
take into account the four factors that are used to evaluate fair use when they
are deciding what and how much of a copyrighted work to use.
What Can Be Copied?
- A chapter from a book
(never the entire book). An article from a periodical or newspaper. A short story, essay, or poem. One
work is the norm whether it comes from an individual work or an anthology.
A chart, graph,
diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.
- Multiple copies of a
poem of 250 words or less that exist on two pages or less or 250 words from
a longer poem.
- Multiple copies of an
article, story or essay that are 2,500 words or less or excerpts up to 1,000
words or 10 percent of the total work, whichever is less.
- Multiple copies of a
chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture contained in a book or
What Should Be Avoided?
- Making multiple copies of
different works that could substitute for the purchase of books, publisher's
reprints, or periodicals. Copying the same works from semester to semester. Copying the same material for
several different courses at the same or different institutions.
- Copying more than nine
separate times in a single semester.
When is Permission Required?
- When you intend to use the
materials for commercial purposes. When you want to use the materials repeatedly.
- When you want to use a
work in its entirety and it is longer than 2,500 words.
Copyright and Electronic
- The same copyright
protections exist for the author of a work regardless of whether the work is
in a database, CD-ROM, bulletin board, or on the Internet. If you make a copy from an
electronic source, such as the Internet or WWW, for your personal use, it is
likely to be seen as fair use. However, if you make a copy and put it on your
personal WWW site, it less likely to be considered fair use.
- The Internet IS NOT the
public domain. There are both uncopyrighted and copyrighted materials
available. Assume a work is copyrighted.
Internet and Copyright
- Always credit the source
of your information Find out if the author of a work (e.g., video, audio, graphic, icon)
provides information on how to use his or her work. If explicit guidelines
exist, follow them.
- Whenever feasible, ask the
owner of the copyright for permission. Keep a copy of your request for
permission and the permission received.
Web Author: Jennifer
Copyright ©2007 by Jennifer Lagier Fellguth - ALL
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