Skip to Main Content

Copyright and Fair Use Resources at Penn College: Home

About the Copyright Committee

""The Copyright Committee (formerly known as the Copyright and Fair Use Advisory Group) monitors copyright law, recommends changes to College policy and procedure as appropriate, and provides general guidance to College employees and students regarding copyright and fair use. To contact us, send email to: copyright@pct.edu

This site provides resources to learn more about copyright and fair use, as well as tools for determining appropriate use, a form for requesting copyright permission, and links to official College Policies & Procedures relating to copyright.

The information contained on this site regarding the protection of works by copyright or creative commons is in no way intended to supersede Pennsylvania College of Technology policies and procedures.

Committee Members

 

Helen YoasHelen Yoas

ACTING CHAIR; INSTRUCTOR, LIBRARIAN

office location  LIB, Rm.137

phone number  570-320-2400, ext. 7920

email  hyoas@pct.edu

Joann Eichenlaub, Founding ChairIn Memory of Joann Eichenlaub

FOUNDING CHAIR OF THE
COPYRIGHT & FAIR USE ADVISORY GROUP

Sara BidelspacherSara Bidelspacher

INTERNAL PRINT & DESIGN SPECIALIST

office location  ATHS, Rm.E136

phone number  570-320-2400, ext. 4946

email  sulrich@pct.edu

Zachary Hanford

Zachary Hanford

INTERLIBRARY LOAN SPECIALIST

office location  LIB, Rm.106

phone number  570-320-2400, ext. 7914

email  zah5@pct.edu

Tara KoserTara Koser

FACULTY, SPECIALTY NURSING PROGRAMS II

office location  ATHS, Rm.W128

phone number  570-320-2400, ext. 7552

email  tck3@pct.edu

Sarah MarinoSarah Marino

ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR, CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION PATHWAYS

office location  DJGC, Rm.1073

phone number  570-320-2400, ext. 4609

email  sfm6@pct.edu

 

Tina MillerTina Miller

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS & MARKETING

office location  DJGC, Rm.3021

phone number  570-320-2400, ext. 4908

email  tmiller@pct.edu

Walter Shultz Jr.Walter Shultz Jr.

DIRECTOR OF EDUCATIONAL & EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

office location  DJGC, Rm.2111

phone number  570-320-2400, ext. 5344

email  walter.shultz@pct.edu

Elizabeth WaughElizabeth Waugh

INSTRUCTOR, LIBRARIAN

office location  LIB, Rm.138

phone number  570-320-2400, ext. 7742

email  epw3@pct.edu

Resources

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations.

"Copyright" literally means the right to copy, but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work.

Creative Commons (CC) is a licensing option that allows creators of intellectual property to retain the rights of ownership while specifying how their materials can be used by others. These works may be used based upon the particular terms of the licensing agreement specified by the creator: attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives, or share alike. Public domain refers to works that are not protected by copyright law and are free to use without permission.

Fair Use is the doctrine for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of 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
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

The distinction between fair use and copyright infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.

Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material.

When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of fair use would clearly apply to the situation.

The College defines Plagiarism as the presenting of another’s words, ideas, or projects as one's original work. To draw upon another's work; to copy out passages (even as short as a sentence) verbatim or with small changes; to use as original another's ideas, interpretations, striking terms or phrases; to paraphrase; or to summarize without acknowledging the source - these require acknowledgement (i.e., footnotes or other citations giving adequate description of the source of materials and clearly indicating all quotations either by quotation marks or by otherwise setting off the quoted passage).

The most common forms of student plagiarism, whether deliberate or not, are the following:

  • Too much of the wording of a passage is quoted without being placed within quotation marks.
  • The research or thoughts of another are not credited.
  • The sources used are merely listed in a bibliography section and not specifically tied to information in the text.

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act facilitates and enables the performance and display of copyrighted materials for distance education by accredited, non-profit educational institutions (and some government entities) that meet the TEACH Act’s qualifying requirements:

Tools

Numbered documents (P and PR) are internal, housed on the myPCT Portal, and available for the use of Penn College students, faculty, and staff only.

If you can't find an answer to your question on our site or in the FAQs below, feel free to e-mail us. We will do our best to answer your questions within one or two business days, and incorporate the responses into this site.

Disclaimer: The Copyright Committee members are not copyright lawyers and cannot give legal advice. Any copyright-related advice provided by the committee is based on research and experience.

Copyright

+ Can I post copyrighted material to my course management system?See Using Articles & Videos in P.L.A.T.O.
+ Can I record something from TiVo or other broadcast programs and put it on P.L.A.T.O.?Refer to your user agreement. If it states it is for personal viewing only, permission will be required. If the user agreement permits, follow the "Guidelines for Off-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming for Educational Purposes" (p. 23-24).
+ How can the copyright dilemma be avoided?If an article is available in the library's databases, provide the URL or a citation, directing students to the correct database. A book may be placed on faculty reserve: either a library copy or an instructor's personal copy. Or you may contact the Mail Services Center to compile a course pack for your class that can be sold to students. You must secure the necessary copyright permissions for the course pack.
+ I have excerpts from an out-of-print book. Is it possible to have this reproduced and distributed to my students as part of a course pack?You would need to get permission from the publisher. In many cases, they do grant permission, but charge a royalty fee. The faculty or school office needs to get the permission from the publisher and submit the written proof to Printing & Document Services. A copy of an e-mail or fax would suffice.
+ I printed out copies of an article for my class. Is there supposed to be some copyright warning notice included on the copies I've made to make sure students understand the material is protected by copyright law?Yes, here is a copyright warning statement you should include on materials copied to distribute to your class: "The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of copies or other reproductions of copyrighted works. This material is protected by copyright and has been copied for private study, scholarship, or research purposes only. You may not alter, further reproduce or distribute it to others unless you obtain any required permission from the copyright holder. Failure to comply with the terms of this warning may expose you to legal action for copyright infringement and/or disciplinary action."
+ I teach a course and want to include a statement about copyright on my course syllabi. What would you recommend?Here is a suggested statement that you could include on your course syllabi: "Academic Integrity and Intellectual Property" - The legal and ethical use of intellectual property is the responsibility of everyone using works created by others. The law provides civil and criminal penalties for copyright infringement. The Copyright Committee provides general guidance pertaining to copyright, fair use, and plagiarism. If there are specific questions, email the committee.
+ I want to reproduce a publication. There are no copyright symbols or message stating that this is copyrighted. Do I have permission to reproduce this?It depends. Is the piece in the "public domain?" For a good definition of public domain, see the Online Library Learning Center's website. Lack of a copyright symbol does not mean that a work is not protected.
+ I'm preparing an educational presentation. I know it's going to be recorded, and may be displayed on the College's public website or YouTube channel for entertainment/marketing purposes at a later date. What do I need to know as I prepare my presentation?Will you be using copyrighted photographs, audio or video clips? Applying Fair Use principles, you may be able to justify an educational use. TEACH Act qualifications may also enable you to justify educational use via distance education. However, placement of a presentation containing copyrighted content on a public website would no longer qualify it under the provisions of fair use or the TEACH Act. Your best course of action before using copyrighted materials is to contact the owners to obtain written permission for their use. Without obtaining that prior permission, you might consider ways to restructure your presentation so that it can stand on its own, without the copyrighted material of others.
+ Is digital content found on the Internet protected by copyright?Copyright protection is automatically assigned to all works as soon as they are fixed in a tangible medium, including in digital form, even if they are freely and openly available and do not display a copyright statement or symbol notice. You must seek written copyright permission in order to use this content.
+ May I make a copy of a journal article for my personal files?Yes. Making a personal copy of a copyrighted work for your research and reference is considered fair use.
+ May I use work that I authored or created?If you are the author of the work, and it was not a work made for hire, you are the original copyright holder. However, if you transferred your copyright to another entity, such as a publisher, without retaining any rights for yourself, you are no longer the copyright holder. As a result, in order to use the work it must meet the fair use provisions or you must obtain copyright permission.
+ What about course packs and copyright?A course pack is a compilation of various reproduced copyrighted works (e.g., articles from journals, chapters from textbooks, and various other readings) that your students will purchase at the bookstore. Permission is required to include materials in the course pack.
+ What are the penalties for copyright violation?When you reproduce, republish, or redistribute a copyrighted work without permission, you may be violating copyright law and could be sued by the copyright holder. Infringers can be liable for the owner's actual damages and any additional profits of the infringer, or statutory damages. The basic level of statutory damages as determined by the court can range from $750 to $30,000 plus attorneys’ fees for each infringing copy. Willful infringement can result in damages up to $150,000 for each infringed copy. If the court determines the infringement was innocent, the court may reduce the damages awarded to $200 for each infringed copy. You may also be criminally liable if you copied the work for financial gain, which could result in a jail sentence. (Section 504, et seq., of Title 17, U.S. Code)
+ What types of activities violate copyright law?The following activities are likely to violate copyright law: copying and sharing copyrighted material, including images, movies, and MP3 files; posting copyrighted material; unauthorized downloading of anything you do not own, such as MP3 files, movies, software, etc. When in doubt regarding a particular work, assume it is copyrighted.

 

Copyright Permission

+ The company gave me the CD for the equipment manual. Does this give me permission to have this copied for my students?No. The company gave the CD to you for your personal files. You will need to obtain permission from the company in order to distribute copies to your students.
+ What happens if I cannot obtain permission to use an item?If you do not receive a response granting permission to use the copyrighted work, you cannot assume that you have been granted permission. You must assume you have not been granted permission and will be unable to use that particular copyrighted work.

 

Fair Use and TEACH Act

+ Can I show a video in my classroom?Under fair use, an educator can display or perform a work in the classroom without copyright permission if the usage is instructional, occurring in a face-to-face teaching setting at a nonprofit educational institution, and the material was lawfully obtained. Note that most streaming services state that viewing and access are for personal use only.
+ If I'm copying something for an educational purpose, isn't that fair use?Copying a copyrighted work for educational purposes doesn't automatically make that copying fair use. Fair use can only be determined on a case-by-case basis, which takes into account the balance of four factors, including the purpose and nature of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substance copied, and the effect on the market or value of the copyrighted work. See What is Fair Use?
+ May I copy a printed journal article for my students? For my personal files?Distribution of multiple copies of an article for classroom use can be a fair use. Allowance of this copying is expressed in the statute, but a four-factor fair use analysis is needed to determine whether fair use applies to any particular set of circumstances surrounding a use. Making a personal copy of a copyrighted work for your research and reference is considered fair use.
+ May I copy chapters from a textbook and distribute them to my students?This would generally NOT be considered fair use. The market for the textbook is directly affected by this activity. Students who would otherwise be expected to purchase the book no longer need to and the publisher is deprived of sales in their primary market. In some cases, however, it could be a fair use, so please contact us to explore further.
+ May I download a digital copy of an article and post it to P.L.A.T.O.? How about a PDF?Digital access to an article must be restricted only to those students enrolled in the class and be posted for a limited duration. License agreements often do not permit posting PDF files to P.L.A.T.O. or other websites; frequently, however, you may make articles available through a direct link.
+ May I include photographs or music in a presentation for my class?Yes, displaying or performing copyrighted photographs and music for classroom purposes is allowed under section 110 of U.S. Copyright Law.
+ May I make changes to a photograph or music file and use it in a class presentation?Yes, changes made to enhance your instructional purpose, e.g., commentary, criticism, or even parody, are activities allowed under the Fair Use provision.
+ May I place copyrighted materials on faculty reserves in the Library?If the library or the instructor has purchased the material, it may be placed on faculty reserve for one semester; however, further usage will generally require copyright permission.
+ May I quote lines from a book, poem, or song in a published work of my own?Reproducing portions of a copyrighted work for the purposes of comment and criticism is often allowed under fair use. However, a four-factor use analysis will need to be conducted for each excerpt you'd like to quote from each work.
+ May I use articles I'm providing to students this semester for classes in upcoming semesters? Don't the "Classroom Guidelines" prohibit repeated use of copyrighted works for more than one semester?Repeated use, though not disallowed under statutory fair use, can have a cumulative effect on any markets for the original work. As such, general practice is to obtain permission after use of the material for one semester.
+ What if my intended use does not meet fair use requirements?If Madigan Library has a license for the item, you may be able to use it for certain educational purposes. Otherwise, either get permission from the copyright owner or revise your usage to meet fair use guidelines.

 

3D/Makerspace Questions

+ ​I found a file on Thingiverse to print out a 3D version of Yoda. Can I modify it and sell them on the Internet?Files found on Thingiverse are user-created digital design files. Generally, the files are free, open source hardware designs licensed under the General Public License (GPL) or Creative Commons licenses. Many of these files will specify they are only for personal use, and for those that do not make that stipulation, you should not assume you can use them for commercial purposes. In addition to modifying someone else’s code, there may be other intellectual property rights involved with the image of Yoda. So, personal use may be okay, but you should not sell them.
+ Can I create my version of a wooden cornhole game and use the Philadelphia Eagles logo on it?If you create your own original design, for your own purposes, you are the creator and owner of the intellectual property rights of that creation. As to the logo, that is a trademark and you should not use that without permission.
+ My nephew broke his toy dinosaur. Can I scan it and 3D print out a replacement for him?Typically, for personal use, most copyright resources agree this should be okay.
+ Can I create a cosplay costume of Princess Leia to wear at an upcoming ComicCon?Most fan creations are for personal enjoyment and most copyright resources indicate that is okay. However, if you created exceptional replicas of Princess Leia’s costumes and sold them on the Internet, you would likely receive notification of infringement.
+ Berne Convention workAn international treaty, the "Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, signed at Berne, Switzerland, on September 9, 1886, and all acts, protocols, and revisions thereto." The U.S. acceded to the Berne Convention effective March 1, 1989. The Berne Convention requires its signatories to recognize the copyright of works of authors from other signatory countries in the same way it recognizes the copyright of its own nationals. Source: U.S. Copyright Office
+ Collective WorkA work, such as a periodical issue, anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole. Source: U.S. Copyright Office
+ CompilationA work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The term “compilation” includes collective works. Source: U.S. Copyright Office
+ CopyrightA form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. "Copyright" literally means the right to copy, but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, title, principle, or discovery. Similarly, names, titles, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, and listings of contents or ingredients are not subject to copyright. Source: U.S. Copyright Office
+ Copyright InfringementAs a general matter, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner. Source: U.S. Copyright Office
+ Copyright NoticeThe copyright notice consists of three elements. They are the "c" in a circle (©), the year of first publication, and the name of the owner of copyright. A copyright notice is no longer legally required to secure copyright on works first published on or after March 1, 1989, but it does provide legal benefits. Source: U.S. Copyright Office
+ Creative CommonsCreative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Creative Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof. Source: creativecommons.org
+ Derivative WorkA derivative work is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.Source: U.S. Copyright Office
+ Fair UseThe doctrine for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair: 1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of 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 4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission. Source: U.S. Copyright Office
+ Intellectual PropertyIntellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. IP is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs. Source: World Intellectual Property Organization
+ Joint WorkA joint work is a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole. Source: U.S. Copyright Office
+ PatentA patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the Patent and Trademark Office. The term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. US patent grants are effective only within the US, US territories, and US possessions. The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. The Vessel Hull Design Protection Act of 1998 added Chapter 13 to Title 17 U.S.C. to protect original designs of vessel hulls under the Copyright Law. However, once a design patent under Title 35 U.S.C. is issued, any protection of the original design under Chapter 13 of Title 17 U.S.C. is terminated. Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
+ Public DomainThe public domain is not a place. A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner. Source: U.S. Copyright Office
+ TEACHThe Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act facilitates and enables the performance and display of copyrighted materials for distance education by accredited, non-profit educational institutions (and some government entities) that meet the TEACH Act’s qualifying requirements. Its primary purpose is to balance the needs of distance learners and educators with the rights of copyright holders. The TEACH Act applies to distance education that includes the participation of any enrolled student, on or off campus. Under the TEACH Act: • Instructors may use a wider range of works in distance learning environments. • Students may participate in distance learning sessions from virtually any location. • Participants enjoy greater latitude when it comes to storing, copying and digitizing materials. Source: Copyright Clearance Center and sections 110(2) and 112(f) of the U.S. Copyright Act
+ TrademarkA trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms "trademark" and "mark" are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and servicemarks. Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark. Trademarks which are used in interstate or foreign commerce may be registered with the Patent and Trademark Office. The registration procedure for trademarks and general information concerning trademarks is described in a separate pamphlet entitled "Basic Facts About Trademarks". Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
+ Work made for hireAlthough the general rule is that the person who creates the work is its author, there is an exception to that principle; the exception is a work made for hire, which is a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or a work specially ordered or commissioned in certain specified circumstances. When a work qualifies as a work made for hire, the employer, or commissioning party, is considered to be the author. Source: U.S. Copyright Office

The first five tools come from the Copyright Advisory Network, American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy: