The Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17 of the U.S. Code) contains provisions that both allow and limit the use of copyrighted materials for instruction.
The following guidelines are provided to ensure that practices and procedures for digitizing copyrighted analog audiovisual works (DVDs, VHS) for streaming in online/distance education courses are in adherence with current federal copyright laws.
U.S. copyright law grants copyright owners the exclusive rights to:
- reproduce a work;
- prepare derivative works based on the original;
- distribute copies to the public;
- perform the work publicly;
- display the work publicly.
Exceptions and limitations to these exclusive rights are listed in Sections 107 through 122 of the first chapter of the U.S. Copyright Act. It is the responsibility of all members of the Angelo State University community to understand these exemptions and to make a good faith determination that the use of a copyrighted work is indeed permissible. If none of the exemptions apply, then permission from the copyright holder must be requested for the use of the work.
Copyright permission is not required when:
Work is in the Public Domain
A work in the public domain is not protected by copyright. Such a work can be freely copied, distributed, performed, displayed, digitized or otherwise used in ways unrestricted by copyright law.
In the United States, works published prior to 1923; works whose term of copyright protection has lapsed; and the majority of works published by the federal government are considered to be in the public domain.
However, other documents, including most foreign government documents, documents produced by states, and most intergovernmental agencies (i.e. the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund), or works created under contract with the U.S government, are not in the public domain. See Section 105 of the U.S. Copyright Statute for more details on this issue.
To assist in determining whether a specific work in is the public domain, consult one or more of the following resources:
Public Domain Determination Tables
- Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States - by Peter Hirtle, Cornell University Library
- Digital Copyright Slider - ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy
Copyright Registration Records
- Search Copyright Records: Registrations and Documents - U.S. Copyright Office
Use falls within the terms of an existing license agreement
Many electronic resources (journal databases, eBooks, and streaming videos) are licensed by the Library and can be accessed, streamed or provided to students through linking. Some databases allow uses such as posting to Blackboard. Search RamCat, the online catalog, to verify the availability of said resources, or contact one of the librarians to ask if the material has been licensed for use in distance education.
Copyrighted materials are increasingly made available under Open Source, Open Access, or licensing mechanisms such as Creative Commons licenses that allow for many uses, including educational or nonprofit use, without the need to seek permission. Licenses vary in the nature and extent of permissions allowed, so it is important to review their terms before using the material.
Use abides by one of the exceptions & limitations written in the law
Section 106 in Chapter 1 of the U.S. Copyright Act lists the five exclusive rights copyright owners have regarding their work. However, the next sixteen sections in the law set forth numerous exceptions and limitations to those rights. The following exceptions are particularly relevant within an online/distance education setting.
When none of the exemptions or limitations listed above apply, permission from the copyright holder for the use of the work is required.
Identify Copyright holder
A few useful resources:
- Contact rights holder and request permission to stream item(s)
- Permission granted, no conditions
- Permission granted at a cost/with conditions (Budget considerations: a number of video distributors impose additional charges and time limits on streaming rights for their titles)
- Permission denied - Find alternative resources
For more information on copyright-related matters, contact Chris Matz, Executive Director of the Porter Henderson Library.
DISCLAIMER: Individual faculty members assume full responsibility for complying with copyright law.