Common Scenarios
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Copyright and Fair Use  

Basics of copyright and fair use for faculty and students
Last Updated: Aug 29, 2016 URL: http://libguides.rockvalleycollege.edu/content.php?pid=546557 Print Guide RSS Updates

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Common Copyright Scenerios

The scenarios to the right are intended to help faculty and students evaluate fair use. These scenarios are illustrative, not exhaustive. 

The examples deal with situations involving:

 

Printed Materials

Journal Article for Classroom Use

SCENARIO 1: A professor copies one article from a periodical for distribution to the class.

FAIR USE? Yes. Distribution of multiple copies for classroom use is fair use. However, the repeated use of a copyrighted work, from term-to-term, requires more scrutiny in a fair use evaluation. Repeated use, as well as a large class size, may weigh against fair use.

Posting Copyrighted Article to Web Page

SCENARIO 2: A professor has posted his class notes on a web page available to the public. He wants to scan an article from a copyrighted journal and add it to his web page.

FAIR USE? No, if access is open to the public, then this use is probably not a fair use. No exclusively educational purpose can be guaranteed by putting the article on the web, and such conduct would arguably violate the copyright holder's right of public distribution. If access to the web page is restricted, then it is more likely to be fair use.

Coursepacks

SCENARIO 3: A professor copies excerpts of documents, including copyrighted textbooks and journals, from various sources. The professor plans to distribute the materials to his class as a coursepack.

FAIR USE? Generally speaking, you need to obtain permission before reproducing copyrighted materials for an academic coursepack. It's the instructor's obligation to obtain clearance for materials used in class. Instructors typically delegate this task to one of the following: clearance services, college bookstores or copy shops, or Department administration.

Textbooks

SCENARIO 4: A professor wishes to use a textbook he considers to be too expensive. He makes copies of the book for the class.

FAIR USE? No. Although the use is educational, the professor is using the entire work, and by providing copies of the entire book to his students, he has affected the market. This conduct clearly interferes with the marketing monopoly of the copyright owner. The professor should place a copy on reserve or require the students to purchase the book.

SCENARIO 5: A professor decides to make three copies of a textbook and place them on reserve in the library for the class.

FAIR USE? No.This conduct still interferes with the marketing monopoly of the copyright owner. The professor may place lawfully obtained copies of the textbook, not self-made copies, on reserve.

SCENARIO 6: A professor wants to place a lawfully obtained copy of a textbook required for his class on reserve in the library for students in his class to use.

FAIR USE? Yes, As long as the intent is not to circumvent students purchasing their own copies of a required textbook. The copy on reserve can be used as a "backup" copy in cases where students don't have their own copy at hand. Situations may include cases at the beginning of a semester when students have not yet obtained their own copy or in case they forget to bring their own copy to campus.

Public Domain Materials

SCENARIO 7: A teacher copies a Shakespearian play from a copyrighted anthology.

FAIR USE?  Yes. The play is in the public domain and not subject to copyright protection.

Unpublished Letters

SCENARIO 8: A professor desires to edit and publish a collection of unpublished letters from the library archives.

FAIR USE? The answer to this scenario requires further information. Has the copyright protection expired? Are the letters subject to any agreement the library made with the donor? Can the author or authors of the letters be located? Is the library agreeable to publication? This is the type of problem that requires a detailed legal and factual analysis. One should consult the institution's office of legal affairs for advice.

Journal Article for Personal Use

SCENARIO 9: A professor wishes to make a copy of an article from a copyrighted periodical for her files to use later.

FAIR USE? Yes. This is a classic example of personal fair use so long as the professor uses the article for her personal files and reference.

Out-of-Print-Book

SCENARIO 10: A library has a book that is out of print and unavailable to purchase at all, even as a used copy. The book is an important one in the professor's field that she needs for her research. The professor would like to copy the book for her files.

FAIR USE? Yes. This is another example of personal use. If one engages in the fair use analysis, one finds that: (1) the purpose of the use is educational versus commercial; (2) the professor is using the book, a creative work, for research purposes; (3) copying the entire book would normally exceed the bounds of fair use, however, since the book is out of print and no longer available from any other source, the copying is acceptable; (4) finally, the copying will have no impact on the market for the book because the book is no longer available from any other source.

SCENERIO 11: Using the same facts as explained in SCENARIO 10 could the professor copy the book and place the book on reserve in the library? Could the professor scan the book into her computer and place the book onto the World Wide Web?

FAIR USE? If the professor placed the book on reserve in the library, the use would be considered a fair use. However, if the professor placed the book on the Web, then the use is not a fair use. Placement on the Web allows unlimited access to the book. This would affect the copyright holder's public distribution of the book.

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Video Recordings

Showing a Video for Classroom Instruction

SCENARIO 12: A teacher wishes to show a copyrighted motion picture to her class for instructional purposes.

FAIR USE? Yes, since it is for classroom instruction and no admission fee is charged. Tuition and course fees do not constitute admission fees.

Copying a Videotape to DVD for Classroom Instruction

SCENARIO 13: A teacher makes a copy of a videotape onto DVD to show in her class because a videotape player is not readily available.

FAIR USE? No. Transferring the content from VHS tape to DVD constitutes copying the entire work.  The teacher should obtain a lawfully made DVD version of the content (buy, rent, or borrow).  If the content is not available on DVD permission must be obtained from the copyright holder to make a copy to DVD.

Renting a Video That Is in the Public Domain for Nonclassroom Use

SCENARIO 14: A professor wishes to raise funds for a scholarship. She rents a video of a motion picture on which the copyright has expired and charges admission fees.

FAIR USE? Yes. The copyright of the motion picture has expired, which places the motion picture in the public domain.

Renting a Video That Is Copyright-Protected for Nonclassroom Use

SCENARIO 15: The facts are the same as those in SCENARIO 14 except that the movie is protected by copyright.

FAIR USE? No,  because it infringes the copyright owner's right to market the work.

Instructor Showing a Video That Is Copyright-Protected to a Group on Campus

SCENARIO 16: A professor wishes to show a video as supplementary material to her course. She wants to show it in an auditorium and invite students from other courses to join her class.

FAIR USE? No. Fair use stipulates that the video must be shown in a classroom or other space dedicated to teaching purposes and it must be directly related to the content of the course.

Student Group Showing a Video That Is Copyright-Protected to a Group on Campus

SCENARIO 17: A student group wants to show a video as part of an educational event on campus, such as domestic abuse awareness. The video would be shown in an open area in the Student Center and the entire campus community is invited.

FAIR USE? No. Fair use does not apply because the video is not being shown as part of any course. This situation constitutes a public performance and public performance rights or license must be obtained. Some of the educational videos owned by the RVC Library have been purchased with public performance rights. Please consult with one of the librarians in such a situation. Public performance licensing for showing feature films on campus can be obtained through Swank Motion Pictures (www.swank.com).

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Distance Education

Providing Access to Resources on the Web

SCENARIO 21: An instructor wishes to share a resource (print, audio, or video) that is available on the web with her online class.

FAIR USE? Yes, as long as the instructor simply provides a link to the resource. Copyright (as the name implies) is fundamentally about the right to make copies of a work. By simply providing a link no copying is occurring and, thus, there are no copyright problems. Links can also be provided directly to articles in the RVC Library's subscription databases.  Please contact one of the librarians of assistance in doing this.

Remember that just because a resource is freely available on the Web does not mean that it is not protected by copyright. In fact, most things on the Web probably are covered by copyright law. Be very careful about copying things from the Web. It is always better to simply link to the material.

Placing Audio or Video Files on Eagle

SCENARIO 22: A faculty member places audio or video content in his course area for students to access on Eagle.

FAIR USE? Yes. Eagle meets the requirements of the TEACH Act since it limits files to streaming only. If a student can potentially download and save the files, it is a violation of copyright law.

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Multimedia Projects

Classroom Presentation

SCENARIO 18: A teacher or student prepares and gives a presentation that displays photographs. Permission was not obtained to use the photographs.

FAIR USE? Yes. The copyright fair use provision explicitly provides for classroom use of copyrighted material. Instructors and students may perform and display their own educational projects or presentations for instruction.

Electronic Transmission or Broadcast of Classroom Presentation

What if the presentation incorporating the photographs discussed in SCENARIO 18 is broadcast to a distant classroom?

FAIR USE?  Yes. This use would be considered fair use, as long as the presentation is broadcast for remote instruction.

Broadcast of Classroom Presentation to Home or Office

What if the presentation discussed in SCENARIO 18 is broadcast to students at their homes or offices?

FAIR USE? Yes. This use would be considered fair use if the individuals are enrolled in a course and viewing the presentation for purposes of criticism, comment, teaching or instruction, scholarship, or research.

Videotaping of Classroom Presentation

What if the teacher's or student's presentation explained in SCENARIO 18 is videotaped?

FAIR USE?  Yes. This use would be considered fair use, if the videotape is used for educational purposes such as student review or if the videotape is for instruction.

Broadcast of Videotaped Classroom Presentation

What if the SCENARIO 18 presentation incorporating the photographs is videotaped and rebroadcast? Is this a fair use?

FAIR USE?  Yes. The use of the photographs is fair use as long as the presentation is videotaped and rebroadcast only for instruction.

Incorporation of Photographs in an Electronic Presentation (Excluding the Internet)

What if the SCENARIO 18 presentation is included in an electronic presentation such as Microsoft's Power Point?

FAIR USE?  Yes. This should be considered fair use as long as the electronic presentation is for educational or instructional use.

Making Changes to Photographs

What if the student or teacher were to change the attributes of the pictures discussed in SCENARIO 18?

FAIR USE?  Yes. This would be considered fair use for education, comment, criticism, or parody. One must inform the audience that changes were made to the photographer's copyrighted work.

Use of Copyrighted Music

SCENARIO 19: A teacher or student creates a presentation and incorporates copyrighted music into the background. Assume that permission was not obtained to use the music for the presentation. Can the music be included in the teacher's or student's initial presentation?

FAIR USE? Yes. This is fair use if instruction is occurring.

Use of Music Over Two-Way Interactive Video

Same facts as SCENARIO 19. The presentation is broadcast to a distant classroom using two-way interactive video.

FAIR USE? Yes. The use of interactive video for educational instruction is considered a fair use.

Use of Music in Videotaped Classroom Presentation

What if the teacher's or student's presentation described in SCENARIO 19 is videotaped?

FAIR USE?  Yes. This is fair use if instruction is occurring.

Use of Music in Broadcast of Videotaped Classroom Presentation

What if the SCENARIO 19 presentation is videotaped and rebroadcast?

FAIR USE?  The answer is not clear. If instruction is occurring and there are no admission charges to the rebroadcast, the presumption is that it may be fair use. Tuition and course fees do not constitute admission fees.

Use of Music in an Electronic Presentation (Excluding the Internet)

What if the SCENARIO 19 presentation is included in an electronic presentation (excluding the Internet)?

FAIR USE?  Yes. This is fair use if instruction is occurring.

Use of Music as Content in a Classroom Presentation

SCENARIO 20: A professor teaches an opera course, and the professor creates a presentation. The presentation contains the works of ten contemporary artists and is presented to a new class every semester.

FAIR USE? Yes, as long as the use of the presentation continues to be for instruction.

Use of Music in Classroom Presentations on the Internet

The opera classroom presentation (SCENARIO 20) or the presentation containing background music (SCENARIO 19) is placed on the Internet?

FAIR USE?  Yes, so long as access is restricted, e.g., by use of a password or PIN or other means.

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