Copyright

Sample Instructor Statements

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).  

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.

Disclaimer

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

What is Copyright?

Copyright is the section of federal law that stipulates what control authors have over their original works. It is specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, which states:

Congress shall have the right 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

What's Protected?

§ 102 of U.S. copyright law grants all "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression" copyright protection. Categories works which are specially mentioned include:

  • literary works
  • musical works, including any accompanying words
  • dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  • pantomimes and choreographic works
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • sound recordings
  • architectural works

How Long Does it Last?

  • Works created on or after January 1, 1978: life of the author + 70 yearsWorks made for hire: 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter
  • Unpublished anonymous or pseudonymous works, or unpublished works when the date of the author is unknown: 120 years from creation
  • Works created before January 1, 1978: refer to this chart created by the Cornell University Copyright Information Center

What are Copyright Holder's Rights?

§ 106 of U.S. copyright law grants the following exclusive rights to copyright holders:

  • Make copies
  • Prepare derivative works
  • Distribute copies
  • Perform the work publicly
  • Display the work publicly
  • Perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission

Any unpermitted use of a copyrighted work in one of the above ways may be considered a copyright infringement.

What are Copyright Holder's Rights?

The entire text of U.S. Code Title 17 - Copyrights is available through Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute. The following sections are especially relevant to higher education:

Permission to reuse content from Hoover Library, McDaniel College.