home Future Students Current Students Faculty and Staff Business and Community Online Courses
 
General Copyright Issues: Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

  1. What rights does a copyright holder have over his/her work? For how long?
  2. What does "Fair Use" really mean?
  3. Can I use cartoons?
  4. Can I use copyrighted music in a PowerPoint presentation and use that presentation in the classroom?
  5. Can I use links to a web site in my course handouts? Do I need to get permission from the web site owner(s)?
  6. What issues need to addressed in developing a copyright policy for Metro?
  7. Who owns material produced for classes, such as web pages, courses?
  8. Who owns students' work? Can it be placed on a web page without permission of the student?
  9. Define plagiarism.
  10. What is the length of copyright?
  11. What obligation does MCC have to enforce/monitor student copyright infringements?
  12. Is using an overhead or other projection device the same as displaying a work?
  13. Student release forms for web course/web sites/using student works.
  14. Define publication.
  15. Is posting on the network the same as publishing a work? Does one need to seek permission from the original source to forward a message to a listserv? In a chat room? To link to an Internet site?

 

Answers

  1. What rights does a copyright holder have over his/her work? For how long?

    The 1976 Copyright Act, section 106, gives the owner of copyright "exclusive right to do and to authorize any of the following:

    To reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
    To prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
    To distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
    To perform the work publicly in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
    To display the copyrighted work publicly in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work."

    The Copyright Act was amended in October, 1998 to change the length of time an item was protected by copyright. There are several terms of copyright protection, but works that are created and fixed in a tangible medium of expression on and after January 1, 1978, are protected from the moment of creation to the length of the author's life plus 70 years after the author's death. Works created by more than one author are protected for 70 years after the death of the last surviving author. Works made for hire are protected for 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation.


  2. What does "Fair Use" really mean?

    The Copyright Act defines "the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

    1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
    3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.


  3. Can I use cartoons?

    Yes and no. Cartoons are like any other work of art since in copying, one copies the entire work. Fair use provides for "spontaneous" use, that is, if an instructor sees an appropriate cartoon and uses it for a class within the same day or week and does not have time to get permission before using it. Continued use every quarter or for a presentation at a conference indicates that time is available to seek permission. Therefore, permission for use should be acquired.

    Many cartoon characters, such as Snoopy, Mickey Mouse and Spiderman are protected by trademark as well as copyright. Many trademark owners are zealous about protecting their images.


  4. Can I use copyrighted music in a PowerPoint presentation and use that presentation in the classroom?

    Maybe. Keep in mind both fair use and the Guidelines for Educational Multimedia. If a presentation is intended for instructional use only, the Guidelines allow "up to 10%, but no more than 30 seconds, of the music and lyrics from an individual musical work" to be used. If you want to use more than that, or if there is even a remote chance that you will want to use the presentation as part of a commercial venture, get copyright permission before you use the material.


  5. Can I use links to a web site in my course handouts? Do I need to get permission from the web site owner(s)?

    Yes, you may use links. A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) or web address is an address and as such, is not subject to copyright. The Copyright Act provides for the fair use of materials for criticism, comment, teaching and research.

    In addition, one can assume that when an author posts anything to the Internet, he or she should reasonably expect that it will be read, downloaded, printed out, and perhaps forwarded on a limited basis. By posting the material, the author grants an implied limited basis. By posting the material, the author grants an implied limited license to users to utilize the work in this manner.

    When preparing for a traditional class, instructors must be aware of fair use and the restrictions on the material they use.  Those same restrictions apply when preparing materials that use resources found on the Internet. If the course materials are to be used over several quarters or used in a presentation outside the College, it would be appropriate to get the permission of the web site owner.

    It is important to remember that just because material appears on a web site, the person who posts the material may not be the copyright owner.


  6. What issues need to addressed in developing a copyright policy for Metro?

    Note: This is a proposed statement, March 4, 1999.

    Metropolitan Community College's statement on copyright is:
    It is the intent of Metropolitan Community College that this College adhere to the provisions of the United States Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code) and congressional guidelines. This policy, and the accompanying Copyright Manual, together form a guide for using materials protected by copyright. This College does not condone the illegal use or reproduction of copyrighted materials in any form. Students and employees who willfully disregard the Metropolitan Community College copyright policy, or the specific conditions described in the manual, do so at their own risk and assume all liability.

    To facilitate compliance, the Coordinator, Library Services shall be responsible for:

    1. enforcing this Copyright Policy;
    2. distributing and periodically revising the Copyright Manual;
    3. conducting training programs to assure that employees understand copyright and fair use;
    4. answering questions about the copyright law;
    5. maintaining appropriate records of permissions, agreements, licenses, and registrations;
    6. placing appropriate copyright warning notices on or near copying equipment;
    7. and other related duties, as needed.

    8. Note: This policy was adapted in part from Dr. Charles W. Vlcek's Adoptable Copyright Policy: Copyright Policy and Manuals Designed for Adoption By Schools, Colleges & Universities (Washington D.C.: Association for Educational Communications and Technology, 1992).


  7. Who owns material produced for classes, such as web pages, courses?

    Metropolitan Community College Board Policy (No. 64701), Preparation of Instructional and Other Material states:

  8. The College shall have all copyright rights, including the right to assign same to a publisher or others, of instructional or other materials prepared by a faculty member in whole or in part within the scope of his employment, that is, during the time of employment by, at the expense of, or with personnel, equipment, supplies or facilities of the College, or prepared pursuant to special order or commission by the College. Unless otherwise specifically agreed to in writing by the College in advance, all such copyright rights, publication rights and royalty rights shall remain the exclusive property of the College.


  9. Who owns students' work? Can it be placed on a web page without permission of the student?

    The ownership of student works submitted in fulfillment of classroom requirements shall remain with the student(s). By enrolling in classes offered by Metropolitan Community College, the student gives the College license to mark on, modify, and retain the work as may be required by the process of instruction, as described in the course syllabus. The institution shall not have the right to use the work in any other manner without the written consent of the student(s). (A consent form (PDF) is available.)


  10. Define plagiarism.

    The College Procedures Memorandum on Student Conduct and Discipline (V-4), states that "representing another's ideas as one's own in connection with a matter upon which the student or another's performance is being or will be evaluated" is "plagiarizing."


  11. What is the length of copyright?

    The "Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act", PL 105-298 was signed on October 27, 1998. Basically, it provides copyright protection for works that will or were created on or after January 1, 1978 from the moment they are created and for the term of the author's life plus 70 years after the author's death. This table or works pass into the public domain is a brief description of the variations.


  12. What obligation does MCC have to enforce/monitor student copyright infringements? As an educational institution, it is the college's responsibility to teach students about copyright, why it is important and the penalties for infringement.

    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act has very specific procedures for copyright owners to follow if they discover that their material is used as part of an Internet website without their permission. In that case, if Metro, as the OnLine Service Provider, has had no knowledge that the material was posted, Metro is obliged to remove the material and speak to the poster. If the misuse continues, the copyright holder may bring charges against the poster.


  13. Is using an overhead or other projection device the same as displaying a work?

    Yes. However, section 110 of the Copyright Act provides limitations on the exclusive rights of copyright holders and provides an exemption of certain performances and displays. The section reads in part:

  14. 110. Limitations on exclusive rights:  Exemption of certain performances and displays
    Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:

    1. performance of display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a class-room or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the persona responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not law-fully made:
    2. performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work or display of a work, by or in the course of a transmission, if—
      1. the performance or display is a regular part of the systematic instructional activities of a governmental body or a nonprofit educational institution; and
      2. the performance or display is directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission; and
      3. the transmission is made primarily for—
        1. reception in classrooms or similar places normally devoted to instruction


  15. Student release forms for web course/web sites/using student works.

    A release form (PDF) authorizing Metro to use a student's likeness, comments, or other work is available.


  16. Define publication.

    The Copyright Act defines publication as "the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication."


  17. Is posting on the network the same as publishing a work? Does one need to seek permission from the original source to forward a message to a listserv? In a chat room? To link to an Internet site?

  18. Works in the electronic environment are protected under Copyright Law just as print works are protected, from the moment of fixation in a tangible medium of expression. This is understood generally to include fixation in a central processing unit. Thus, e-mail messages, postings to bulletin boards, files placed where they can be retrieved by file transfer protocol ("ftp"), hypertext documents on the WWW and a host of other "publications" in the electronic medium are all protected. Thus, no one who finds a document or other work on the Internet should assume that the owner has granted permission to copy, display, publish, distribute or perform the work except as required for the normal use of the work in the electronic environment. For example, to retrieve a file, one must make a copy of it somewhere in the retriever's computer since that is the nature of retrieving; often a hard copy will be made as well for easier reading. Other uses, such as reposting to a listserve or otherwise distributing the work electronically, publishing the contents of the file in electronic or other media or creating a derivative work from it should be reserved to the owner.
 
 
 
Contact Us