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Copyright Information for Students

The purpose of this guide is to provide students at SJR STATE with an understanding of copyright law and fair use.

While copyright issues can be complex, everyone needs to understand the basics. Failure to comply with copyright law can lead to substantial legal penalties for both you and the College.

Copyright for Students PowerPoint Slides

Copyright For Students.
What is copyright?  Copyright refers to a Federal law that protects work created by you or anyone else from being copied, changed, or used without permission. In other words, when you create something like a story, photograph, poem, song, or drawing, it belongs to you and others have to get your permission to use it. The current copyright law, the Copyright Act of 1976 (as amended), is codified in Title 17 of the U.S. Code.
What is copyright?   What this means is that, as the author of the work, you alone have the right to do any of the following or give permission to others to do any of the following:  Make copies of your work; Distribute copies of your work; Perform your work publicly (such as for plays, film, dances or music); Display your work publicly (such as for artwork, or stills from audiovisual works, or any material used on the Internet or television); and Make “derivative works” (including making modifications, adaptations or other new uses of a work, or translating the work to another media).
What is copyright?  Not everything is protected by copyright law. The following are categories of things not protected:  Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, (but written or recorded descriptions, explanations, or illustrations of such things are protected copyright); Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; mere listings of ingredients or contents (but some titles and words might be protected under trademark law if their use is associated with a particular product or service); Works that are not fixed in a tangible form of expression, such as an improvised speech or performance that is not written down or otherwise recorded;  Works consisting entirely of information that is commonly available and contains no originality (for example, standard calendars, standard measure and rulers, lists or tables compiled from public documents or other common sources); and Works by the US government.
What is fair use?  There are some expectations and limitations to your rights as a copyright holder. One major limitation is the doctrine of “Fair Use”.  The law provides that “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies…for purposes such as: Criticism Comment News Reporting Teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use) Scholarship Research Is not an infringement of copyright.”  This is what is commonly known as the “Fair Use Doctrine”.
What is fair use?  It is important to remember that the Fair Use Doctrine only allows for very limited use of the copyrighted works for educational and research purposes. The legal system considers the following criteria when determining whether it is “fair use”.  The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; The nature of the copyrighted work; Amount and sustainability of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
How can I tell if my use is “Fair Use”?  Using the four factor criteria, publishers and the academic community have established a set of educational fair use guidelines to provide “greater certainty and protection.”  These guidelines do not have the force of law, but have been used as minimum standards for fair use. Remember that these guidelines apply only to use in an education related activity (coursework, presentations, etc.) in a not-for-profit educational setting.
Library Online Databases.  The SJR State Library provides teachers and students access to many online databases on the Internet. The educational use guidelines do not apply to works available through these online resources as they are subject to individual license agreements. It is important that students do not share their MySJRstate login and password with other users. Contact the library for additional information on the use of works from our online databases.
Guidelines: Books and Periodicals.  You can make single copies of:  A chapter of a book An article from a periodical or newspaper A short story, essay or poem A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture Short works, such as a children’s book, allow 10% or 2 pages, whichever is less
Guidelines: Music.  Music, lyrics, music videos  Up to 10%, but no more than 30 seconds You can make alterations if it supports an instructional objective (Note that a change was made) Don’t change the basic melody or the fundamental character of the work
Music Continued.  Sheet Music  Copies of excerpts may be made if less than 10% of the whole work and if it is not a performable unit such as a selection, movement, or aria. Printed music that has been purchased may be edited or simplified if the fundamental character of the work is not distorted or the lyrics altered or added if none exists. You can’t copy to avoid purchase
Guidelines: Software.  Legally purchased software use is generally covered by a license agreement. Be sure to read and follow the restrictions. However generally, you can make one back-up coy of the software program that you own; however you can use this copy only if the original fails. You cannot use this copy on multiple computers or distribute it to others.
Guidelines: Video.  You can copy up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less. You can make alterations if they support an instructional objective. (Note that a change was made) Copying an entire video, even for personal use, is a violation
Guidelines: Internet.  Just because information is on the Internet doesn’t mean that you have the right to use it. Text, video, sound, and graphics found on the Internet have the same copyright protection as print material. And that includes source, formatting, and frame codes. Some Internet sites give specific permission for the use of their content, however if that content is itself in violation of copyright laws, you are not exempt from infringement if you use or distribute the unauthorized content. Recent litigation over music file sharing sites is just one example of this form of copyright violation.
Creating your Own Websites.  It is usually not a violation of copyright to publish links to content on another site Do not copy logos or trademarks to use a hyperlinks unless permission is specifically given by the owner/creator of the site. Use words instead of copyrighted or trademarked graphics when linking Don’t copy source, frame or other formatting codes without specific permission from the creator Many sites offer “free ware” or “share ware” programs, code, clip art, etc.; always follow the published guidelines for use of this kind of material
Are copyright and plagiarism the same thing?  The answer is no. Plagiarism is using the words or ideas of others without proper acknowledgment. Giving proper credit for copyrighted material does not exempt the user from violating the laws on copyright infringement.
Copyright and the Library.  St. Johns River State College and its libraries are also subject to copyright law. This may impact the availability of materials for student use, usually in the areas of interlibrary loan and course reserves.
Interlibrary Loan.  The library is prohibited from requesting more than one article from a single issue of a periodical that the library does not own The library is prohibited from requesting more than five articles from a periodical title in a five year period The library is prohibited from requesting a non-periodical title, that it does not own, more than five times during the entire term of copyright (author’s lifetime, plus 70 years)
Course Reserves.  Course reserve material is limited to students currently enrolled in that course Students may make only one copy of course reserve materials and may not distribute or further disseminate that material
SJR State Librarians are available to answer your questions about copyright and these guidelines. Contact your campus library for more information.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

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Copyright Defined

Copyright law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public.  Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, records, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protects the following eight categories of works:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works
  3. dramatic works
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work. Use of such work by others during the term of the copyright requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use. Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of money damages to the copyright owner.


P2P File Sharing

P2P refers to “peer to peer” file sharing networking. The term refers to a decentralized computing network in which users exchange files directly with other users.

Please click on page 1 and page 2 of our pamphlet  to read more about P2P sharing and how it relates to you.



Common Copyright Scenarios

Click here to view. The scenarios provided are intended to help faculty and students evaluate fair use and should not be construed as legal advice. These guidelines are simply that and in no way guarantee exemption from infringement.

Content used with permission from the Bern Dibner Library of Science and Technology | 5 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201


Elements of this guide were adapted from or used directly with permission from the following institutions:

The Bern Dibner Library of Science and Technology

University of Nebraska, McGoogan Library of Medicine

The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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