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FAQs on Copyright

Q: Do U.S. Copyright Laws apply to all members of the Ursinus Community?

A: Yes

Q: Why is adhering to U.S. Copyright Law so important?

A: Ursinus College is committed to maintaining compliance with all expects of the law. Accordingly, it is expected that all members of the College community comply with all federal laws including U.S. Copyright Laws. Adherence to U.S. Copyright Laws has a profound impact: students learn how to approach issues pertaining to the use of copyrighted items; authors/artists receive royalties (income) due to them for their work, and the College maintains its good name and reputation. It is important to note that violations of the U.S. Copyright Laws can lead to lawsuits, financial penalties, and further College investigation(s).

Q: Is every educational or research use of copyrighted material fair use?

A: No, you should always perform a “reasonable and good faith” test to determine fair use. Columbia University Libraries offers a four factor test to determine if your particular use is fair use.

Q: I want to make course packs for my class, have the copycenter make the copies but not charge or make money from them. Am I allowed to do this?

A: After performing a “reasonable and good faith” test for fair use, you may be able to use materials in a course pack. Fair use is a one time use only. If you were to use the same course pack in successive semesters without permission from the copyright holder or paying a fee for use, this would be an infrignment of copyright.

Q: On my course syllabus I have required students to view a movie that I will show in the auditorium and invite the campus and community to join the viewing. Is this a violation of copyright?

A: Yes, Copyright Law Section 110 states that the viewing must be part of face-to-face teaching for your class on campus. Inviting the campus and outside community is looked upon as a public viewing and could result in hefty fines.

Q: I want to make copies of a DVD to place on reserve in the library for educational use. Is this a violation of copyright?

A: Yes, this is a violation of section 110(1). You should place the original DVD on reserve.

Q: I teach English Literature and would like to compile a DVD of Jane Austin’s movies, which are copy protected, to compare and contrast characters.  Is this allowable under the Digital Millennium Act?

A: According to the Digital Millennium Act circumventing copy protection systems is a criminal act, however in 2006 the US Copyright Office created an exemption. “Audiovisual works included in the educational library of a college or university’s film or media studies department, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of making compilations of portions of those works for educational use in the classroom by media studies or film professors.”

In July, 2010, the Librarian of Congress made the following determination to Section 1201 Rulemaking:

Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:

(i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;

(ii) Documentary filmmaking;
(iii) Noncommercial videos

Q: Can I pull media off the internet for all areas of my teaching?

A:  When ever possible you should provide a link to the resource you wish to use rather than pulling the material directly. If that is not possible please refer to The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.

Q: For articles that will be used as reserve can they be used more than once without copyright permission?

A: No, you must obtain permission to use the materials in subsequent semesters.

Q: The college library owns a VHS tape that is deteriorating may I transfer it to a DVD?

A: No, you must ask acquisitions to see if it is available for purchase on DVD. If no DVD is available you will need to request a replacment VHS.