Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if something is copyrighted?
Copyright protections are given to any original work that is “fixed in any tangible medium of expression at the work’s creation.” Facts, ideas, U. S. government works and any work published before 1923 are considered public domain.
How do I know whether my use of copyrighted materials is protected under the “Fair Use” clause of the Copyright Act?
Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows the public to make limited uses of copyrighted works without permission. Fair use may not be what you expect. Therefore, do not assume that a nonprofit, educational use or giving credit for the source of the work, or that limiting access to materials to students in the class creates an inherent fair use. Fair use depends on a balancing of four factors, which may be addressed by a variety of means.
For more information, consult: Fair Use
How Does Fair Use Apply to Course Reserves?
The general standards designed to give fair use some practical application also apply in the area of standard/electronic reserves.
For more information, consult: Course Reserves FAQ
How does Fair Use apply to CLEo?
There are many issues related to CLEo and the application of fair use. Instructors and others within the Whitman community who are using methods of electronic delivery of materials other than CLEo should also consider the standards of fair use when evaluating whether their activities fall within the copyright statues.
To establish the strongest basis for fair use, consider and apply the four factors using one of the suggested evaluation tools. Permission from the copyright owner is also an important option when posting materials on CLEo. Instructors are ultimately responsible for securing permission to place material on CLEo as needed. Consider your alternatives. The easiest is simply to link to from CLEo to any of the libary's licensed databases. Penrose Library can help you locate and make those links.
Does it make a difference if I upload a PDF to CLEo rather than link to that document though an online source?
It is preferable to link to an article rather than uploading a PDF version into CLEo. In many cases, Penrose Library has already purchased the electronic journal that may include that particular reading. Linking to that document will avoid duplicate permission costs, help the Library keep accurate track on how frequently resources are used, and free you of the necessity of requesting copyright permission if you chose to use the article more than once. CLEo and eReserves work together, giving you the ability to place all of your readings within the context of your CLEo course site, yet take advantage of the workflow, archival and managment services that the Library's eReserves offers.
For additional information, consult: Reserve Services
Are there alternative methods for information delivery that I should consider?
You may want to consider alternative methods of providing students with materials for various reasons. For instance, some copyright owners may routinely deny permission for their works to be accessible in electronic form, or it may be more effective, both in terms of time and money, to use an alternative delivery system.
- Provide links to materials for students: Often linking to materials already legally posted on the Internet or available through the Library is the most efficient method of providing materials for students;
- Require students to purchase materials: Don't overlook the option of requiring students to purchase books and other materials that include the reading you need for your course;
- Careful use of CLEo gives instructors considerable control over the selection and delivery of materials to students.
While the development of coursepacks was common practice for many years, with the advent of full-text journals and course managements systems like CLEo, there are better alternatives for required classroom readings. For additional information, consult: Coursepacks.
Can I re-post items I find on the web without having to worry about copyright? Isn’t all of that stuff in the public domain?
Many people mistakenly assume that everything posted on the Internet is in the public domain. It is vital for you to know that current copyright law gives legal protection to nearly all text, images, audiovisual recordings, and other materials that are posted on the Internet, even if the original works do not include any statement about copyright.
For additional information, consult: Media & Web Resources
Is it permissible for me to show a DVD or video tape to my class that I rented or purchased?
The performance or display of a copyrighted work by instructors or students in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or “similar place devoted to instruction” is permissible.
For additional information, consult: Video Recordings
How is a “classroom or similar place devoted to instruction” defined?
Unfortunately, the law at present does not define what a “similar place devoted to instruction” means. If a work is shown outside the actual time of a course, substantial educational discussion, commentary, etc. is advised for this to be considered a permissible performance of the work.
Can I show a DVD I check out of the Library to my club or organization and invite the general public?
A performance will be considered "public" if a substantial number of individuals (outside of a typical family and its circle of acquaintances) gather for a viewing. The exception for showing films at a nonprofit educational institution only applies within the context of a teaching activity. All Penrose Libary video materials have a statement explaining if public performance rights are available for the materials; if not, permission will need to be obtained from SWANK or the Motion Picture Licensing Corp.
What if I want to stream a video or DVD so that my students may view it outside of class time, but for purposes of a particular course?
Instructors may show audiovisual works in an online instructional environment so long as certain conditions are met.
For additional information, consult: Video Recordings
Can I legally show a DVD from another region or a video tape in a different format?
It is permissible to watch a lawfully obtained copy of a non-region 1 DVD on a non-region 1 DVD player or to reset the region code setting of DVD-ROM drives in computers and to view alternative video tape formats on multi-format players. It is not permissible to copy a videotape or DVD for purposes of converting the item from one format or region to another.
Adapted with permission from “Copyright & The Claremont Colleges”