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Copyright on Campus  

This guide provides an overview of copyright law and related resources. It also provides guidelines to help HCC faculty, staff and students comply with copyright law and college policies.
Last Updated: Sep 17, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Copyright & Fair Use Print Page

Copyright Law Title 17

The idea of copyright is in the US Constitution.

United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8.
The Congress shall have power...To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

Copyright law protects authors and their published and unpublished works that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression, including:

  • literary works, such as poetry, novels
  • dramatic works, such as movies, plays
  • musical works, such as songs
  • artistic works, such as computer software, architecture

Copyright laws also address how works may be used in education setting.   See the box below for more information.


    Teaching using Copyrighted Materials

    If the work you wish to use is copyrighted and not covered by a license or conditions of use that have already you agreed to, you have the following options:

    • Link to the work
    • Determine if the work is in the Public Domain or 
    • Use an exception to copyright law such as the teaching exceptions for Performance and Display as outlined Section 110 of copyright law or for these exceptions as amended by the Teach Act 
    • Determine if a license such as a  Creative Commons license covers your use 
    • Fair use (Section 107) (see below)
    • Obtain permission from the copyright owner or license the work 

    If you are uncertain about any of these steps, please contact Alesia McManus.

    Fair Use - Section 107

    Copyright law begins with the premise that the copyright owner has exclusive rights to many uses of a protected work. But it also sets forth several exceptions to those rights. The best-known and most important exception to owner's rights is fair use. Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976 offers four broad criteria for applying fair use:

    1. The purpose and character of use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature 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.

    These factors should be considered in determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use.


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    Alesia McManus
    Contact Info
    Director of the Library
    443-518-4634 or 443-518-1460 (Service Desk)
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    Sample Copyright Statement

    The TEACH Act requires a copyright notice to be on online course websites.  The TEACH Act Toolkit offers the following sample copyright notice:

    "The materials on this course Web site are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated."


    Sample Syllabus Statement

    Copyright laws and fair use policies protect the rights of those who have produced the material.  The copies in this course has been provided for private study, scholarship, or research.  Other uses may require permission from the copyright holder.  The user of this work is responsible for adhering to copyright law of the U.S. (Title 17, U.S. Code).  To help you familiarize yourself with copyright and fair use policies, the College encourages you to visit its Copyright on Campus Web Page (




    I am not a lawyer and this guide does not constitute legal advice.   If you have legal questions, please contact a lawyer. 


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