Skip to Main Content

Library Orientation for Faculty: Copyright

Use this LibGuide to learn more about Lightner Library and its resources as well as the services the library offers to Keuka faculty.

Why is Copyright Important?

Risk management:  failure to follow copyright principles exposes Keuka College to risk/liability

Academic Integrity:  we expect academic integrity from our students so we need to set an example or we are operating under a double standard

Copyright Resources

There is some excellent information on the Internet; following are links to some web sites that you may find useful:

Copyright & Fair Use.  Stanford University,

Copyright Information Center. Cornell University,

Copyright, Fair Use, & Education. Copyright Advisory Office, Columbia University Libraries, Information Services,            


Copyright Basics

Purpose:  The writers of the Constitution felt uniform copyright law was important because the country needed well-informed citizens so access to knowledge was essential.  Copyright derives from the United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 which states "The Congress shall have the power ... to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors exclusive Rights to their respective Writings and Discoveries." 

Congress gave copyright holders exclusive rights to reproduce and market their works for limited times.  Those rights include:

  • Right to reproduce in copies
  • Right to distribute to the public
  • Right to create derivative works based on the original
  • Right to display publicly
  • Right to perform publicly

The most recent major revision came in the Copyright Act of 1976 that abolished all state copyright law making copyright a Federal issue to be dealt with in the Federal Courts.



Fair Use

Fair Use is the most common exception that limits the rights of copyright holders.  If your use is a fair use, you do not have to seek permission to use copyrighted materials.  Without fair use, quoting from copyrighted works, providing copies to students, and many other activities would be infringements.

Fair Use is based on a balancing of four factors.  You must evaluate and apply all four factors to each situation.  Those factors are:

  • Purpose and character of the use  (non-profit or educational versus for-profit or commercial)
  • Nature of the work (factual or fictional in nature, degree of creativity, published or unpublished)
  • Amount of the work used in relation to the whole
  • Effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

 You do not need to satisfy all factors.  Where the factors favoring fair use outnumber the factors weighing against fair use reliance on the fair use exception is justified.  If less than half the factors favor fair use, permission should be obtained.  If you have a 50-50 split, get permission or get advice from the college attorney. 

 Section 504(c)(2) of the law has a special provision for non-profit educational institutions that believe their use of a work constitutes fair use.  It is called the Good Faith Fair Use Defense, and a court may reduce statutory damages to zero if it believes that the infringer had reasonable grounds to believe the use was fair.

In each instance where you are using a copyrighted work, you should perform a fair use analysis based on the four factors set out above.  Each situation will be different, and you should maintain a record of your decision-making process as your analysis could be critical in demonstrating your good faith should your use be challenged.  Following are links to several checklists available on the Internet that you can use to analyze your use.

Educational Use

For more information on the fair use and photcopying provisions of copyright law see government publication Circular 21, Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians.  Following are some general guidelines from Circular 21:

Copying for Classroom Use:

A single copy may be made of any of the following by or for a teacher at his or her individual request for his or her scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

  • A chapter from a book
  • An article from a periodical or newspaper
  • A short story, short essay, or short poem, whether or not from a collective work
  • A chart, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper 

Multiple Copies for Classroom Use:

Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:

  • The copying is spontaneous in that it is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher
  • The copying of the material is for only one course
  • Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term
  • There shall not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term
  • You should always be sure to include a copyright notice 
  •  No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of photocopying

Some other things to consider:

  • Copying an entire book, DVD, or video weighs against fair use, especially when you can easily purchase a copy.  Copying should never subsitute for the purchase of a book or journal
  • Putting the same material on Reserve or  Moodle semester after semester weighs against fair use.  Permission from the copyright holder should be sought in this instance.
  • Linking to an article in a database is probably okay but copying and pasting the article into Moodle probably is not
  • Some articles in databases have licensing restrictions on using and/or linking to them.  If there are restrictions, they are found in the article's abstract.  A good example is the Harvard Business Review.  While we have full text access to this journal in the Business Source Premier database, some of the articles have a Notice of Use Restrictions requiring you to get copyright permission from Harvard University if you intend to use them as assigned course material in an academic institution.




Placing Course Materials on Moodle

If you are making digital resources such as online journal articles or chapters of books available to your students on Moodle, you should be aware of the best practices to follow for copyright compliance. Below is a link to a Whitepaper from the Copyright Clearance Center entitled Using E-Reserves: Guidelines and Best Practices for Copyright Compliance that should help. 

Copyright for State & Federal Materials


Title 17 of the United States Code Section 105 (17 U.S.C. 105) states that "Copyright under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government."  What this means is that publications of the United States federal government are in the public domain.  


The copyright of materials produced by state governments varies from state to state.  The State Copyright Resource Center is a resource created to help identify the relevant laws in each state.

Reference Librarian

Profile Photo
Linda Park
(315) 279-5208