A copyright is a form of protection for intellectual property that grants certain privileges to a copyright holder. As the name implies, the copyright grants the right to produce copies of a creative work. Under United States Copyright Law, a copyright holder is granted certain exclusive rights to their creation including:
Copyright applies to a wide variety of works including, but not limited to:
*NOTE: These works are protected from the moment they are in a fixed format regardless of whether they contain a copyright notice or copyright has been registered.
The public domain refers to those works that are not copyright protected and that can be used freely, without seeking permission. There are a number of ways a work may pass into the public domain, including the following, though you should always check carefully to determine that a particular work really is in the public domain before assuming that you may use it.
Fair use is a legal exemption to the exclusive rights of copyright holders. It is determined on a case-by-case basis and is based on a consideration of the following four factors:
Because intention is a part of the consideration, only the user can make the initial assessment of whether their use is fair.
Fair use rules do not state a concrete maximum of usable material (not a number of words, or a length of time, or a percent of total). Fair use also does not mean that LCCC users can use/distribute any copyright material they want simply because LCCC is an educational non-profit. We are bound by copyright law too.
The Fair Use doctrine is often evoked whenever someone wants to use a copyright-protected work in an educational setting without the formal permission of the copyright owner. However, determining fair use is not so cut and dry: Section 107 of the copyright law lays out four factors that must be weighed in determining whether a situation can be classified as fair use:
|1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.||Non-profit educational use is the easiest to be covered under fair use; most universities and non-profit educational institutions can easily claim fair use for this reason.|
|2. The nature of the copyrighted work.||Factual or scientific materials tend to fit under fair use better than creative works such as fiction, poetry, plays, etc.|
|3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.||How much of a work are you using? Are you using an entire journal issue, a large portion of the book, most of the illustrations from an article or book? The greater the amount used, the less likely it is to be fair use.|
|4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.||Can you easily purchase the copies that you need? Is this a consumable item such as a study guide that should not be reproduced? Are you repeatedly using something under fair use when you should be paying royalties?|
Any determination of Fair Use must take all FOUR factors into consideration.
How often a work is used is NOT part of the copyright law, though some publishers believe you should seek permission or pay a royalty fee for repeated use of copyrighted works. A safe practice is to seek permission for repeated use, especially if the use is over several years, though it is not stipulated by the copyright law.