What is copyright? How does it apply to me?
Copyright is a collection of exclusive rights that authors or creators have that protects their original works. It applies to most creators of original work including students. While creators are granted exclusive rights over their work, U.S. copyright law does provide for the fair use of copyrighted works without securing the copyright holder's permission for some purposes such as an demonstrable pedagogical need.
What is a fair use of copyrighted material? The answer to that question is not a straightforward as we might wish. It is almost always, "It depends." To determine if something is fair use, each case must be analyzed on its own merits and in light of the four factors of fair use. The four factors are the purpose and character of the use; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount of the work used; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for work.
*Some government documents may include copyrighted material used by permission. Reproduction of copyrighted material within a government document does not place it in the public domain.
Copyright refers to the exclusive rights the creator of an original work has to protect that work. These rights, listed in 106 of the Copyright Act are the rights to:
(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
U.S. copyright law considers some unauthorized by the copyright holder usages of copyrighted works to be fair use of the works. Copyrighted materials used "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research" may be a fair use and not require obtaining permission from the copyright holder. In determining if a use is fair, four factors must be considered. No single factor can determine fair use. For example, simply using any copyrighted work in a nonprofit educational setting does not make the use fair. All four factors must be considered and applied. The four factors are:
(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.
Use this tool from Michael Brewer and the American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy to help determine if a use of copyrighted material is a fair use.
It does not infringe on copyright to post links to anything online. Using links is a recommended method of sharing materials on the web.
If you would like to share a full text article or ebook available in one of the libraries databases the first step is to locate a permanent or persistent link on the webpage.
In the case of Ebsco content, this link can most often be found on the right hand side of the page, in the list of actions. In some cases the permalink will appear if you click the "Share" option at the right of the page. Don't use the URL in your browser navigation bar! Not a permanent or persistent link.
In the case of articles from Proquest, there will be a permalink as one of the "Share" options at the upper right of the page. Click the elipsis icon to see it.
Articles in Jstor include permalinks at the left of the page. They offer versions both with and without the library's proxy prefix.
You can also add a prefix to the item's url. This prefix will direct users to log in to the UMass Lowell network with their email address and passwords. Once they have, they will be taken to the article or ebook. Simply add "umasslowell.idm.oclc.org/login?url=" (without the quotation marks) to the beginning url of the article or ebook.
For example, "Debunking the Top Three Myths of Digital Sampling: An Endorsement of the Bridgeport Music Court's Attempt to Afford 'Sound' Copyright Protection to Sound Recordings" by Tracy L. Reilly published in the Spring 2008 issue of the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts is available in full text in the libraries' online databases. The URL for the article is http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=vth&AN=33331096&site=eds-live
Affix the prefix to the url like this: https://umasslowell.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=vth&AN=33331096&site=eds-live to allow users to log in as UMass Lowell members and access the article from off campus. If a user is on campus, the link will go to the article without needing a log in.
The Ebsco permalink will already include this proxy prefix so if you have an Ebsco permalink you don't need to add a proxy.
The TEACH (Technology, Education And Copyright Harmonization) Act is a 2002 addition to U.S. copyright law. Its purpose is to address the performance or display of copyrighted materials in online courses offered by accredited nonprofit institutions. The TEACH Act offers some benefits to educators, however, in order to take advantage of them there are certain requirements that must be met.
Here is the text of the TEACH Act. The act is a section of the much larger 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. A pdf of the full text of the whole act is available from the U.S. Copyright office here. The TEACH Act begins on page 154. It is incorporated into the U.S. code in title 17 § 110.
SEC. 13301. EDUCATIONAL USE COPYRIGHT EXEMPTION.
(a) Short Title.--This <<NOTE: 17 USC 101 note.>> subtitle may be
cited as the ``Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of
(b) Exemption of Certain Performances and Displays for Educational
Uses.--Section 110 of title 17, United States Code, is amended--
(1) by striking paragraph (2) and inserting the following:
``(2) except with respect to a work produced or marketed
primarily for performance or display as part of mediated
instructional activities transmitted via digital networks, or a
performance or display that is given by means of a copy or
phonorecord that is not lawfully made and acquired under this
title, and the transmitting government body or accredited
nonprofit educational institution knew or had reason to believe
was not lawfully made and acquired, the performance of a
nondramatic literary or musical work or reasonable and limited
portions of any other work, or display of a work in an amount
comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of
a live classroom session, by or in the course of a transmission,
[[Page 116 STAT. 1911]]
``(A) the performance or display is made by, at the
direction of, or under the actual supervision of an
instructor as an integral part of a class session
offered as a regular part of the systematic mediated
instructional activities of a governmental body or an
accredited nonprofit educational institution;
``(B) the performance or display is directly related
and of material assistance to the teaching content of
``(C) the transmission is made solely for, and, to
the extent technologically feasible, the reception of
such transmission is limited to--
``(i) students officially enrolled in the
course for which the transmission is made; or
``(ii) officers or employees of governmental
bodies as a part of their official duties or
``(D) the transmitting body or institution--
``(i) institutes policies regarding copyright,
provides informational materials to faculty,
students, and relevant staff members that
accurately describe, and promote compliance with,
the laws of the United States relating to
copyright, and provides notice to students that
materials used in connection with the course may
be subject to copyright protection; and
``(ii) in the case of digital transmissions--
``(I) applies technological measures
that reasonably prevent--
``(aa) retention of the work
in accessible form by recipients
of the transmission from the
transmitting body or institution
for longer than the class
``(bb) unauthorized further
dissemination of the work in
accessible form by such
recipients to others; and
``(II) does not engage in conduct
that could reasonably be expected to
interfere with technological measures
used by copyright owners to prevent such
retention or unauthorized further
(2) by adding at the end the following:
``In paragraph (2), the term `mediated instructional
activities' with respect to the performance or display of a work
by digital transmission under this section refers to activities
that use such work as an integral part of the class experience,
controlled by or under the actual supervision of the instructor
and analogous to the type of performance or display that would
take place in a live classroom setting. The term does not refer
to activities that use, in 1 or more class sessions of a single
course, such works as textbooks, course packs, or other material
in any media, copies or phonorecords of which are typically
purchased or acquired by the students in higher education for
their independent use and retention or are typically purchased
or acquired for elementary and secondary students for their
possession and independent use.
``For purposes of paragraph (2), accreditation--
``(A) with respect to an institution providing post-
secondary education, shall be as determined by a
[[Page 116 STAT. 1912]]
or national accrediting agency recognized by the Council
on Higher Education Accreditation or the United States
Department of Education; and
``(B) with respect to an institution providing
elementary or secondary education, shall be as
recognized by the applicable state certification or
``For purposes of paragraph (2), no governmental body or
accredited nonprofit educational institution shall be liable for
infringement by reason of the transient or temporary storage of
material carried out through the automatic technical process of
a digital transmission of the performance or display of that
material as authorized under paragraph (2). No such material
stored on the system or network controlled or operated by the
transmitting body or institution under this paragraph shall be
maintained on such system or network in a manner ordinarily
accessible to anyone other than anticipated recipients. No such
copy shall be maintained on the system or network in a manner
ordinarily accessible to such anticipated recipients for a
longer period than is reasonably necessary to facilitate the
transmissions for which it was made.''.
(c) Ephemeral Recordings.--
(1) In general.--Section 112 of title 17, United States
Code, is amended--
(A) by redesignating subsection (f) as subsection (g); and
(B) by inserting after subsection (e) the following:
``(f)(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, and without
limiting the application of subsection (b), it is not an infringement of
copyright for a governmental body or other nonprofit educational
institution entitled under section 110(2) to transmit a performance or
display to make copies or phonorecords of a work that is in digital form
and, solely to the extent permitted in paragraph (2), of a work that is
in analog form, embodying the performance or display to be used for
making transmissions authorized under section 110(2), if--
``(A) such copies or phonorecords are retained and used
solely by the body or institution that made them, and no further
copies or phonorecords are reproduced from them, except as
authorized under section 110(2); and
``(B) such copies or phonorecords are used solely for
transmissions authorized under section 110(2).
``(2) This subsection does not authorize the conversion of print or
other analog versions of works into digital formats, except that such
conversion is permitted hereunder, only with respect to the amount of
such works authorized to be performed or displayed under section 110(2),
``(A) no digital version of the work is available to the
``(B) the digital version of the work that is available to
the institution is subject to technological protection measures
that prevent its use for section 110(2).''.
(2) Technical and conforming amendment.--Section 802(c) of
title 17, United States Code, is amended in the third sentence
by striking ``section 112(f)'' and inserting ``section 112(g)''.
(d) Patent and Trademark Office Report.--
(1) In general.--Not later <<NOTE: Deadline.>> than 180 days
after the date of enactment of this Act and after a period for
[[Page 116 STAT. 1913]]
the Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, after
consultation with the Register of Copyrights, shall submit to
the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and the House of
Representatives a report describing technological protection
systems that have been implemented, are available for
implementation, or are proposed to be developed to protect
digitized copyrighted works and prevent infringement, including
upgradeable and self-repairing systems, and systems that have
been developed, are being developed, or are proposed to be
developed in private voluntary industry-led entities through an
open broad based consensus process. The report submitted to the
Committees shall not include any recommendations, comparisons,
or comparative assessments of any commercially available
products that may be mentioned in the report.
(2) Limitations.--The report under this subsection--
(A) is intended solely to provide information to
(B) shall not be construed to affect in any way,
either directly or by implication, any provision of
title 17, United States Code, including the requirements
of clause (ii) of section 110(2)(D) of that title (as
added by this subtitle), or the interpretation or
application of such provisions, including evaluation of
the compliance with that clause by any governmental body
or nonprofit educational institution.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell Libraries endeavor to comply with U.S. copyright law and avoid copyright infringement while asserting our rights and the rights of our patrons to fair use of copyrighted materials as provided in U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §107 and §108.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is intended to aid users in making decisions about copyright. It should not be construed as legal advice from a trained attorney.