SVSU POLICY REGARDING COPYRIGHT - Rights and Responsibilities
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Copyright is based on the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." The United States Copyright Act of 1976 protects these rights.

Copyright owners have the exclusive right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute, perform, display, transfer ownership, rent or lend their creations.

Copyright thus provides the author of a creative work with the exclusive legal right to control the copying of that work.

Most major nations further observe the Berne copyright convention; in the USA, "almost everything created privately and originally after April 1, 1989, is copyrighted and protected whether it has a notice or not" (Templeton, 10 Big Myths About Copyright). Or, as Dr. Frederic Erbisch, Director of the Office of Intellectual Property at Michigan State University, put it, "everything copyrightable is copyrighted." This includes text, pictures, graphs, music, video, software, e-mail, etc. In other words, virtually all work by an author/creator is copyrighted the moment it is written or created. This includes student work.

The Copyright Term Extension Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 have extended the length of copyright protection and set limits for claims of copyright infringement for online service providers and educational institutions.

There is much discussion today about whether the concept of intellectual property is obsolete in the electronic age. However, several test cases have affirmed that copyright laws will be applied and enforced even as technology continues to change. The Saginaw Valley State University Internet and Electronic Communications Acceptable Use Policy governs current university use of Internet and electronic communications: "Users shall respect the legal protection provided by copyrights and licenses to programs, data and images."

he Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Electronic Learners developed by the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) likewise affirms that "All citizens of the electronic community of learners have ownership rights over their own intellectual works" (Article I, Section 5), and "It shall be each citizen's personal responsibility to recognize (attribute) and honor the intellectual property of others" (Article II, Section 2).

Under the Copyright Act of 1976 cited above, educators enjoy special privileges:

Educators may use portions of copyrighted material if the purpose and character of the work is educational in nature, previously published, not a substantial part of the entire work and if the marketability of the work is not impaired by the use.

Thus, educators may use copyrighted materials as long as they meet Fair Use restrictions.


Fair Use for Educators

According to guidelines for Fair Use developed by a consortium of libraries, publishers, government agencies and software developers, four factors determine Fair Use:

  • The purpose and character of use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work (factual/creative);
  • The amount and substantiality 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.

These guidelines apply to all copyrighted materials, including all media:

Educational multimedia projects created under these guidelines incorporate students' or educators' original material, such as course notes or commentary, together with various copyrighted media formats including but not limited to, motion media, music, text material, graphics, illustrations, photographs and digital software which are combined into an integrated presentation (Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia).

For Internet sources, "access to works on the Internet does not automatically mean that these can be reproduced and reused without permission or royalty payment" (Fair UseGuidelines for Educational Multimedia). In fact, information on the WWW will be under copyright, unless otherwise noted.


Fair Use Facts

The following Fair Use Facts, from Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia, provide guidelines for instructional use of copyrighted materials:

  • You must be using your copies of the work for a nonprofit educational purpose.
  • The time at which you were inspired to use the copyrighted work and the time at which you will actually use it are so close that a request for permission could not be processed.

The following limitations on the portion of the copyrighted work must be applied:

  • Poetry - no more than 250 words or two pages;
  • Prose - a complete article, story, or essay is allowed if it is less than 2500 words or, if the work is longer, 10% or up to a maximum of 1000 words;
  • Illustrations - one chart, diagram, drawing, graph, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical article; no more than 5 images by an artist or photographer;
  • Motion media - up to 10% or 3 minutes;
  • Music, lyrics and music video - up to 10% but no more than 30 seconds.

In all cases, educators and students must credit the sources and display copyright ownership information. See Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia for further information.

Making multiple copies for classroom use is likewise governed by Fair Use guidelines:

  • Copies cannot be from an anthology or be used to substitute or create one. If you wish to do this, permission will have to be sought.
  • Copies cannot be from an anthology or be used to substitute or create one. If you wish to do this, permission will have to be sought.
  • Copies must not substitute for the purchase of books, publisher's reprints or periodicals.
  • No more than two use copies may be made of an educator's multimedia project. An additional copy may be made for preservation purposes.
  • Copies must not be directed by a higher authority, such as a dean or department head.
  • The same instructor cannot copy the same item from term to term without permission for each term.

Fair Use Checklist

If the work is not copyrighted, it is not necessary to use this checklist; such documents do not require permission. (For materials available through the bookstore, the bookstore may require you to sign a statement that the relevant material is not copyrighted, indemnifying them should that issue be contested.) To determine whether other materials for classroom use fall under Fair Use, consider the following questions (adapted from Questions and Answers on Copyright for the Campus Community).

Answer YES or NO to each question as it applies to your material:

  • Is the primary use of the material for profit rather than educational use?
  • Does the time span between publication date and intended use allow adequate time to request permission?
  • Is the work to be reproduced or copied an anthology or collection?
  • Is the copyrighted work intended to be consumable--i.e., workbooks, exercises, etc.?
  • If poetry, is the excerpt more than 250 words?
  • If prose, is the excerpt more than 10% of the work, or more than 2500 words?
  • If illustrations, is the excerpt more than one chart, diagram, drawing, graph, cartoon or picture, or more than 5 images by an artist or photographer?
  • If motion media, is the excerpt more than 10% or 3 minutes?
  • If music, lyrics or music video, is the excerpt more than 30 seconds?

If the material is copyrighted and you answered YES to any question, it will be necessary to seek copyright permission to use the material.

NOTE: Copyright permission applies to one semester only. If the same material is to be used in subsequent terms, permission must again be acquired.

For more information regarding copyright laws and policies, please see the resources page.


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