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Copyright and Fair Use For Students: Overview

Includes overview, public domain information, fair use, database permissions, and the Creative Commons



 ..."copyright is a legal device that provides the creator of a work of art or literature, or a work that conveys information or ideas, the right to control how the work is used." Stephen Fishman, Esq. The Copyright Handbook, 1996.

The intent of copyright is to advance the progress of knowledge by giving an author of a work an economic incentive to create new works. --From the University of Maryland University College Site


     Copyleft is a play on the word copyright to describe the practice of using copyright law to offer the right to distribute copies and modified versions of a work and requiring that the same rights be preserved in modified versions of the work. In other words, copyleft is a general method for making a program (or other work) free, and requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free as well. -- Wikipedia

Derivative work

    " 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..." 

Fair Use

    "pertaining to the US Copyright Act, Title 17. Chapter 1. Section 107, in which limitations are set for copying a work.  Purposes such as teaching, researching, and criticism are acceptable for limited copying of a work"

Public domain

     "The realm embracing property rights that belong to the community at large, are unprotected by copyright or patent, and are subject to appropriation by anyone


     " A concept used in United States copyright law to describe a characteristic of some derivative works that makes them transcend or place in a new light the underlying works on which they are based. In computer- and Internet-related works, the transformative characteristic of the later work is that it provides the public with a benefit not previously available to it, which would otherwise remain unavailable. Such transformativeness weighs heavily in a fair use analysis and may excuse what seems a clear copyright infringement from liability." --

Copyright Documents

Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code

    (Circular 92, Copyright Office, Library of Congress)

Copyright Law of the United States:

     (Complete version of the U.S. Copyright Law, October 2009, pdf=1.6Mb, 2010)

United States Copyright Office Website

Fair Use: Copyright Act of 1976, Title 17, Chapter 1

Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998

DMCA: 118 resources (EDUCAUSE site, 2010)

T.E.A.C.H. Act of 2002

     New roles, rules, and responsibilities for academic institutions due to the TEACH Act

Copyright basics: The TEACH Act

     Basic explanation of the features in the T.E.A.C.H. Act that affect non-profit college and universities

Teach Act now contitutes Section 110 (2) of the Copyright Act

     Statement on the North Carolina State University website

Statement of the Librarian of Congress Relating to Section 1201 Rulemakings

    Exempts from infringement the use of portions of DVDs by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students for the purpose of documentary filmmaking or noncommercial videos (Librarian of Congress, 2010)

Trademarks, Pattents, etc.

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ENGL1010: Beard/Warren