Copyright Laws

This page provides basic information about copyright laws and links to additional resources that will help you better understand the laws.

The Copyright Act

Copyright is a form of protection provided by U.S. law (Title 17, U.S. Code) to authors/creators of original works, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. Copyright protection exists automatically from the moment the original work is in a fixed form (e.g. a written document). Copyright law gives copyright owners exclusive rights to authorize how others reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute, perform, or display their works.

Under the law, both individuals and Southeastern Community College are liable for copyright infringement. All members of the College community—faculty, staff, and students—are expected to adhere to the limits set forth by copyright law when using or reproducing copyright-protected works. Please read SCC's Administrative Guideline 1103 Copyright Act. For more information, see these additional resources from the United States Copyright Office:
Copyright Basics.
Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright.

In general, if you want to use a copyright-protected work, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner UNLESS one of the following exceptions applies to the situation.

  • The work has an open license (e.g. Creative Commons license) that specifies how it may be used/reproduced.
  • The College has purchased a license agreement that includes permission to use/reproduce the copyright-protected work in an educational context. Contact the College department that was responsible for the purchase of the product to inquire about the terms of the license.
  • The intended use/reproduction of the work is covered by a specific exception in copyright law. Exceptions that might apply include:
    • Performances and Displays in Face-to-face Teaching – Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act allows copyright-protected works to be performed/displayed in classrooms provided that the works are integral to the curriculum, and, in the case of audiovisual works (e.g. movie), lawfully made copies are used.
    • Performances and Displays in Online Teaching – Section 110(2) pf the Copyright Act is known as the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act. The TEACH Act allows copyright-protected works to be performed/displayed in online education. Online education includes courses that are entirely online, and courses that have both face-to-face and online components. The following resources will help you better understand all the requirements and provisions of the TEACH Act.
      The Original TEACH Act Toolkit. Louisiana State University Libraries.
      Teach Act, Copyright Crash Course. University of Texas Libraries.
      Teach Act Checklist. University of Texas Libraries.
    • Fair Use – Section 107 of the Copyright Act allows for the reproduction or use of copyright-protected works "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research." To determine whether the Fair Use exception applies, ALL four of these factors must be considered: (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or 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.
      Resources that will help you evaluate Fair Use:
      Fair Use Checklist. Colombia University Libraries.
      Fair Use Evaluator. Michael Brewer & ALA Office for Information Technology Policy.

Additional resources to help you evaluate your use/reproduction of copyright-protected materials:
Code of Best Practices in Fair use for Academic and Research Libraries. Association of Research Libraries.
Code of Best Practices in Fair use for Media Literacy Education. Center for Media & Social Impact.
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. College Art Association.
Copyright Crash Course. University of Texas Libraries.
A Framework for Analyzing any U.S. Copyright Problem. Kevin Smith & Lisa Macklin. Adapted by the Center for Advancement of Digital Scholarship, K-State Libraries. (This is a good resource to start with when you are trying to evaluate a specific situation.)
Reproduction of Copyright Works by Educators and Librarians. United States Copyright Office.

If none of the above exceptions applies to your situation, then you will need to request permission from the copyright owner. Be sure to include the following information in your request:
- Title, author and/or editor, and edition of materials to be duplicated.
- Exact material to be used (page numbers, chapters, number of minutes if audiovisual, etc.).
- Number of copies to be made.
- Use to be made of duplicated materials (including time period or duration if copying on an on-going basis is desired).
- Form of distribution (classroom, newsletter, etc.).
- Whether or not the material is to be sold.
- Type of reprint (photocopy, offset, typeset, reproduced [media]).

It is important to maintain records of permissions sought, denied, or granted. Additional resources on seeking permission:
Asking for Permission. Columbia University Libraries.
The Basics of Getting Permission. Stanford University Libraries.
How to Obtain Permission. United States Copyright Office.

(It is important to remember that students own the copyright to the academic works they create. Most teaching-related uses of student work fall within the Fair Use exception, but as a courtesy, faculty/staff should ask for permission to use student work. See this sample Student Permission and Waiver Form.)

If you have questions regarding copyright law, please contact:  

Julie Meyer, Librarian 
(319) 313-1961

Randall Moffett, History Instructor 
(319) 208-5231

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 enacted updates to copyright law for the digital world. The DMCA protects the rights of content creators/owners of music, movies, games, software and other digital resources. The content creators/owners of digital resources are legally protected from being copied or reproduced in a digital environment without their consent. According to the DMCA, higher education institutions that provide Internet access to students, faculty and staff (subscribers) are defined as an "Online Services Providers" (OSP). The DMCA does not require SCC to monitor subscribers' Internet activity. However, the DMCA does mandate that SCC respond to infringement acts when specific evidence is provided to the College's designated DMCA agent. Please read SCC's Administrative Guideline 1104 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Chuck Chrisman, Vice President of Technology Services
Southeastern Community College Designated DMCA Agent
(319) 208-5070
Southeastern Community College
1500 West Agency Road
West Burlington, Iowa 52655

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