New media create new questions. One of those questions concerns copyright, which becomes an issue for both the faculty and the students who use electronic media. As Dr. Frederick Erbisch, Director of the Office of Intellectual Property at Michigan State University, emphasized in his address to the faculty, we must pay attention to copyright issues for both legal and ethical reasons.
The Saginaw Valley State University Policy Regarding Copyright briefly outlines those parts of the U.S. Copyright Law which apply to educational institutions. These copyright guidelines apply to all materials used in our courses: texts, videotapes, music, Internet resources, and the like. The Resources for Copyright Questions can provide more detailed information if you have questions or wish to explore the issue further.
Please review these guidelines carefully. You may also wish to share relevant parts and resources with your students. When we practice academic integrity in our own use of sources and copyrighted materials, we model the kind of ethical behavior we expect from our students, and foster "the creation and maintenance of an environment wherein trust and intellectual freedom are the foundation for individual and institutional growth and success" (Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Electronic Learners) .
The simplest way to avoid potential breach of copyright, of course, is to request permission to use an author's or publisher's materials. There are several steps in securing copyright permission to use material (keep in mind that ALL material published since 1989 is copyrighted, whether the copyright is registered or not):
1. Determine who owns the copyright
2. Contact the copyright holder and request written permission for use, indicating the educational context/length of time/number of uses anticipated. (Bear in mind that this permission process often takes a long time and that sometimes no response at all is forthcoming, in which case the requester needs to follow up but cannot use the materials until copyright is secured, except under Fair Use guidelines.) Some companies will have a reply form they send. You want to verify that the permission is legitimate, granted by the actual copyright holder.
3. If necessary, pay any user fees.
4. When using the material, attach a message such as this: Used by permission, date.
To request permission to use copyrighted materials in a course or on a course webpage, the Sample Copyright Permission Letter may be used as a guide. See also the Release of Student Work for Publication form, for including student work on a webpage or in course materials.
You may also wish to contact the Copyright Clearance Center (see Resources for Copyright Questions ). Through its collective licensing agreements, it can provide an efficient way to secure copyright permissions for its several million titles. The Copyright Clearance Center is also in the process of developing an Academic Electronic Reserves Service.