In the academic setting we all use copyrighted materials in a number of different ways for various purposes. We use material for research and teaching, but also for entertainment and social purposes. This links below provide information on some issues that may come up when using copyrighted works in your school or personal life.
Under the face-to-face teaching exception in Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act, a lawful copy of a video may be shown in a classroom or similar place at a nonprofit educational institution. The same is true for performance of music or display of images.
The rules for transmitting video, images, and other works over digital networks for educational purposes are complex, but under Section 110(2) of the Copyright Act a digital transmission may qualify as an exception if:
Most commercially available DVDs are protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that prevents you from copying the video. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prohibits the breaking of DRM except in certain specific cases. These exceptions are intended to allow for uses that would be legal if the user did not have to circumvent DRM. The DMCA also requires that these exceptions be reviewed every 3 years for renewal, as well as examining newly proposed exceptions.
In 2012, an exception to the DMCA digital locks prohibition on breaking the DRM on DVDs was approved for certain specific circumstances. This exception allows any college or university professor or student to break DRM on a DVD in order to use short clips from the DVD to create new educational materials for the purpose of comment or criticism. The professor or student still needs to consider fair use when deciding how much of a DVD is needed to accomplish the educational use of the video.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) refers to a network protocol that allows users to share files with other users who are utilizing the same software. P2P can be used to quickly and easily share or download large files. There are a number of popular P2P protocols including Bittorrent, Fasttrack, eDonkey, and Gnutella.
While there are a number of legal uses of P2P networks, unfortunately a lot of the material that is shared/downloaded through P2P networks is copyrighted and is not obtained or provided legally. Unless you own the copyright on the works you share or are given express permission by the copyright owner it may be illegal to share or download copyrighted materials.
There are a number of potential risks to using P2P. These include potential copyright infringement, for which you could lose access to the university network and/or be sued by the copyright owner. You could also have malware or viruses placed on your computer. It is also possible to accidentally share personal information if you do not properly set up your account. The resources below provide more information on the risks of P2P and some precautions to take when using P2P networks.
Peer to Peer File Sharing: The Office of the CIO provides information on the safe use and risks of P2P software.
P2P File-Sharing Risks: OnGuardOnline.gov, a cooperative of a number of Federal Government agencies, has created this resource to explain the potential dangers of using P2P software.
If you would like to find out more about P2P file sharing, there are many helpful resources available:
File Sharing from The Electronic Frontier Foundation: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a collection of articles about file sharing including information on recent court cases and proposed legislation.
A University Computer Users' Guide to Peer-to-Peer File Sharing: from the University of Arizona.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) File Sharing & Copyright Safety: Helpful P2P information from Indiana University.
Plagiarism is using another person's words or ideas without acknowledgment.
Plagiarism includes actions such as submitting a paper you have not written and saying it is your own; copying answers or text from someone else; and quoting, citing data, or using someone else's ideas without crediting the source.
The plagiarist can face charges of academic misconduct even if the person whose work he or she copied did not know about the plagiarism or did not object to it. In addition, the plagiarist loses the chance to develop his or her ideas and do the learning that exercise involves.
Use quotation marks and ellipses when quoting directly. When you summarize material, restate it in your own words and credit the source.
No. Plagiarism is breaking an ethical code and can lead to discipline from the university. Copyright infringement, on the other hand, is breaking a federal law and can lead to an expensive trial and costly fines. It is possible to commit plagiarism without committing copyright infringement. For example, you could use a work that is not protected by copyright, such as a public domain work, or you could use a portion of someone else's copyrighted work that is small enough not to constitute infringement. Failing to properly cite the creator of a work does however weaken your claim of fair use.
If your use of a copyrighted work is not covered by an exception, or does not fall within the public domain, you may still contact the copyright holder and seek permission to use the work. You may also consider whether your use would be protected under fair use.
The first step in seeking permission to use a work is identifying the owner of the copyright. The owner of the copyright may be the author, or the owner may be the author’s employer or any other individual to whom the author has transferred ownership. Once you have identified the owner you may then begin the process of requesting permission. Visit the Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University to see procedural steps for securing permission and to view sample permission forms.
Sometimes it is not possible to find who owns the copyright to a work. This often happens with older works that are out of print but are possibly still protected by copyright. If you cannot figure out who the owner is or if the work is still protected, this is what is known as an orphan work.
Dealing with orphan works can be difficult. There are times that you really need to get permission in order to use a work. If you can not find the copyright owner to ask for permission, you need to rely on fair use or other exceptions to cover your use of the work. As of now there really is not a viable option for using orphan works when a specific exception does not apply.
Congress has looked at developing a revision to the Copyright Act to deal with orphan works on a number of occasions, but has not yet passed any legislation. In October, 2012, the U.S. Copyright Office asked for comments from the public in order to further study the situation with orphan works. The Copyright Office is interested in how orphan works are being handled, what problems individuals and groups are having in dealing with them and what possible solutions there may be to the current orphan works situation. They have not released their report yet.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Information contained in the following webpages has been adapted from the Copyright Resources Center at The Ohio State University Libraries and the University of Minnesota Libraries.
This website presents information about copyright law. The LRC make every effort to assure the accuracy of this information but does not offer it as counsel or legal advice. Consult an attorney for advice concerning your specific situation.
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