Introduction: How to Use This Guide
This guide, Copyright Basics for Educators and Students, provides basic information about copyright law, fair use, and educational exemptions in copyright law.
- To figure out whether you can use a specific work created by someone else, continue below to "Copyright Answers for Instructors & Students: Tools that Help."
- For an excellent introduction to copyright law and issues in an educational setting, start with Purdue University's "Copyright Overview". Then continue to learn more about copyright by going to the "Copyright Tutorials & Help" tab at the top of this guide.
- To find additional resources about copyright, use the tabs at the top of this guide.
Copyright Answers for Instructors & Students: Tools that Help
Steps 1 - 3 below will help you determine whether you are dealing with copyrighted material and whether your use of the material will require permission (or not) from the copyright holder. In each step, you will find links to tools that will help you complete the step.
1. Determine if the material is protected by copyright by using these tools:
- Is It Protected by Copyright? Public Domain Slider
Set the slider on the right side of the screen to the publication date of the item. Then read the information in the windows and mouse-over asterisks for more information.
- Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States, by Peter B. Hirtle, Cornell Copyright Information Center, January 2009.
Summarizes the duration of copyright for various kinds of works (books, sound recordings, etc.).
- Search Registered Copyrights
Databases provided by U.S. Copyright Office to search for copyright status of a work.
- Copyright Renewal Database, Stanford University.
Search this database to find out if the copyright has been renewed on a specific work published from 1923 to 1963.
2. If not protected by copyright, use it without obtaining permission. If it IS protected by copyright, use the following tools to see if "fair use" or educational exceptions allow the intended use without seeking permission.
- Exceptions for Instructors eTool
"Under certain conditions, U.S. Copyright Law provides for the educational use of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. To find out if your intended use meets the requirements set out in the law, use this free, online tool. This tool can also help you collect information detailing your educational use and provide you with a summary in PDF format."
- Fair Use Evaluator
This tool will: "Help you better understand how to determine the "fairness" of a use under the U.S. Copyright Code. Collect, organize & archive the information you might need to support a fair use evaluation. Provide you with a time-stamped, PDF document for your records, which could prove valuable, should you ever be asked by a copyright holder to provide your fair use evaluation and the data you used to support it. Provide access to educational materials, external copyright resources, and contact information for copyright help at local & national levels."
3. If it IS protected by copyright, and "fair use" or educational exceptions do not allow the intended use, you will need to seek permission for use from the copyright holder.
- "Obtaining Permission," UCCopyright, University of California
- "Getting Permission," Georgia Harper, University of Texas System
For greater understanding of copyright, use the "Copyright Tutorials and Help" tab, where you'll find a good starting point with Purdue's "Copyright Overview." See also the tab labeled "More Copyright Resources."
DSU Notice to Students Regarding Illegal Filesharing
SOURCE: Vice President for Student Affairs Jesse Wise
Notice to All Students Regarding Internet Copyright Infringement and Digital Millennium Copyright Infringement Notices
File-sharing software that downloads and distributes songs, videos, games and software without permission of the owner is illegal. Illegal downloading or distribution of copyrighted materials can result in criminal or civil prosecution. Content owners, such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and Home Box Office (HBO), use technological means to track file sharing of their intellectual property on the Internet.
Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office, especially their FAQ's.
Dakota State University regularly receives infringement notices. As a matter of policy, the University responds by notifying the infringing individual upon their first offense and/or by referring the case to the Code of Conduct Coordinator upon subsequent alleged violations. A variety of sanctions can be imposed for file infringement violations.