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FTCC Copyright Compliance Center!

Guides to copyright policy and training resources for faculty, staff, and students.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a study guide that goes well with the class I am teaching. Is it permissible to make copies from it for my students?

No. If you intend to use more than a small amount of the guide then the students will have to purchase a copy.

A book I want to use is out of print but a colleague has a copy of it. Is it permissible to make copies of it?

No. Out of print does not mean out of copyright protection. You should make every reasonable effort to purchase an additional copy if you want permanent access.

The textbook for my class is on backorder. Can I copy the first chapter for my students until the book comes in?

The answer is yes as the copying is for instructional purposes. One (1) chapter has been recognized as an acceptable amount to copy so long as the book is at least 10 chapters long, it is only done for this situation, does not result in any financial benefit from the copying, and is not done as a substitute for purchase.

 **If you use Blackboard, it would be permissible to scan the pages you need and post them in your course until the textbook is available. This way only your students have access, you can destroy the copy once the students have their textbooks and you have not made print copies that are still in existence. You may not, however, post the pages on a website that is not restricted to the students in the class. Please remember that this is not permissible as a substitute for the book for the entire semester; this can only be justified until the students have access to purchased copies of the textbook.

What if the study guide is no longer available for purchase?

Because an item is no longer available for purchase does not mean the copyright has expired. If you must use the item with your students then you will need to get permission from the copyright owner. In cases like this it might be simpler to find a new study guide that can be purchased by your students.

Can I make copies of print material for my own research?

Yes, making one copy for scholarship and your own use is permissible.

Can I make multiple copies of printed material for distribution to my students?

In some cases this is acceptable. Follow the “fair use” guidelines above. “Fair use” may apply if your decision to distribute the copies is spontaneous. For example, you find a journal article that would complement your lecture and benefit your students, but your class meets tomorrow and there is no time to obtain permission from the copyright owner. In this case, you may make and distribute copies, as long as you follow these guidelines:

                Distribute only one copy for each student in the class.

                Do not distribute the same photocopied material again in another semester without permission.

                Include a copyright notice on the first page of the portion of material photocopied.

                Do not assess any fee beyond the actual cost of the photocopying to your students.

Keep in mind that many print articles are now available online. If this is the case your best option is to provide your students with a link to it. If there is a copy of the material in one of the Library’s online subscription databases, you can refer your students to the article or give them a link to it. This avoids any copyright violations and saves on printing costs. The College Librarians can help you determine if a particular article is available online or help you find something similar to meet your need.

Can I place multiple copies of an article on reserve for my students?

In some cases this is possible. Once again, the answer lies in whether you can justify the use as fair use by using the “Fair Use Evaluator.”

Can I make copies of the same article for my students every semester since it supplements a certain portion of what I teach every semester?

No. You can make and distribute a copy of something that you find at the last moment, but you must get permission from the copyright owner for making copies for successive semesters. In some cases you might have to pay royalties for this use. The best practice is to find the article or something similar online, and provide your students with a link.

What if I don’t make copies of an article but post the article in my Blackboard course every semester?

This would still be a copyright violation. You need to get permission for use beyond the first semester. The best way is to provide a link for a legal online version of the article if one is available. If you are not sure, check with the Director of Library Services / Copyright Compliance Officer. If the article is in one of the Library’s online databases you can create a link directly to it for your students.

Is it a copyright violation to place a work in the classroom or on reserve and request that students make copies?

Yes, this is known as “top down” copying and is prohibited. Requiring students to make copies is the same as making the copies yourself. You need to seek permission to make the copies, or place the work on reserve and have the students use it in the Library. Be sure to check with the Library about appropriate reserve procedures to avoid copyright violations. Works placed on reserve must be legally acquired copies owned by the College or the instructor. The Library will not place items on reserve if it is judged that the nature, scope, or extent of copying violates the limits of fair use.

If I find something on the Internet that does not have a copyright statement, is it safe to assume that I can make copies of it for my students?

No. There does not have to be a copyright statement or symbol to secure copyright. The act of publishing in any form insures copyright protection. You should assume that everything is copyrighted unless you see a statement to the contrary. In this case the best way is to use the internet to share the material in class or to create a link in your Blackboard course site to the legal online version.

Can I post a copy of a magazine or journal article on my website?

Just because it is technologically possible to do something does not make it legal. While the technology exists to scan a printed work, save it as a file, and post it on a web page, this is a copyright violation. Outside of “Fair Use,” you must obtain written permission from the copyright holder before publishing – this includes posting on a website or into an email -- anything that is not your original work.

Can I convert my VHS videos to DVD format?

No, it is a copyright violation to change an item from one format to another. This is only allowed if the original format is obsolete and equipment to play it is not available for purchase. (An example of this would be ¾ inch videocassettes. It is acceptable to transfer material from ¾ inch to another medium.) While VHS appears to be a dying format, videocassette players are still available, so you can’t transfer VHS into another format. Also, if you make a copy rather than purchasing the new format you are affecting the market for the item.

 What about posting material electronically for my online students?

Fair use allows for electronic posting of copyrighted materials for online classes, with these restrictions:

The instructor must post the material in such a way that only those students currently enrolled in the class can access it. For example, if only students who can log into your Blackboard course have access, then you are most likely not violating copyright.

                The amount of material posted must be reasonable in relation to the entire document.

                You cannot copy and post more than one (1) entire chapter from a book.

                The materials must be removed at the end of the semester.

                Each reserve posting must carry the copyright notice.

                Copyright clearance must be obtained in order to use the material in any subsequent semester.

Can I show a rented movie to my class?

Yes, as long as it is for educational purposes related to the curriculum and the lesson at hand. Also, be sure that this use is not prohibited by the rental provider.

Can I make a recording to change a work from one format to another?

In most cases, the answer is no. It is also a copyright violation to make a recording by narrating a print work onto tape. Even though the medium is different, the material is still copyrighted.

Can I record a television program and show it to my class?

The answer is a qualified yes. Any program that you record for educational use can be used only once with each class, must be used within ten days of recording, and must be erased after 45 days. And since “fair use” guidelines apply here, the classroom use must be directly related to course objectives -- not for entertainment.

Can I make a copy of an audiocassette, videocassette, CD, or DVD to keep as a backup?

No. It is a mistake to think that you can make a copy of anything for backup purposes. You can only do this if the rights were granted in writing with the original purchase, and this is not the usual case.

There are a number of videos and DVDs that I used with my traditional classes, but now I teach these classes online through Blackboard. How do I get his material to my students?

There has been considerable discussion, and much disagreement, about this. The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act was legislated to address the issue of how to provide the materials in online classes that were considered “fair use” in the traditional classroom. But the TEACH Act is more restrictive than fair use. For example, fair use allows instructors to show an entire video in the traditional classroom, as long as this is needed to meet an educational objective of the course. The TEACH Act does not allow the same instructor to have the same video streamed for students in the online version of the same course.


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