Conditions of Use

For classroom use:
Multiple photocopies for classroom use may be made by or for the teacher for classroom use or discussion without the publisher's prior permission, under the following conditions:

  • the distribution of the same photocopied material does not occur every semester;
  • only one copy is distributed for each student which must become the student's property;
  • the material includes a copyright notice on the first page of the portion of material photocopied;

These copies should be distributed to students in a class.

Online Instruction and Brightspace use:
You should perform a fair use analysis when deciding whether to post materials to Brightspace without permission. Consider the four factors for fair use and try to determine objectively whether your use is fair. Use the guidelines as though it were in a physical classroom.

A useful and legal alternative is to link directly to an Internet resource. If you want to use an article that is available in one of the Library’s electronic databases for instructional purposes, we recommend creating persistent links and inserting the link into Brightspace.

Note regarding use of the Library’s electronic resources: The majority of the Library’s databases contain materials that are licensed for specific uses and/or users. If you are unable to create a persistent link as suggested above and you wish to use an electronic resource in your course please contact Warner Library at

Also see Multimedia Use (tab below) and the TEACH Act for information on using other forms of media in your courses.

Determining Copyright

Determining whether a work is copyrighted is more than simply looking for a copyright symbol (©), which is no longer required. To be safe, you should assume that a work is copyrighted unless determined otherwise. In addition, more than likely what you really want to know is whether or not you can use a work in a particular instance. Here are some questions to help you determine copyright and/or use rights:

Is the work eligible for copyright?
The following cannot be copyrighted:

  • Facts and ideas
  • Processes, methods, systems, and procedures
  • Titles
  • All works prepared by the United States Government
  • Constitutions and laws of State governments.
  • Materials that have passed into the public domain

Do you own the copyright to the work?
This may seem like a simple question; however, many authors do not know or mistakenly assume that they do. Publishers usually require authors to sign a contract stipulating who maintains the copyright and/or the use rights. As an author you need to check the terms of the contract to determine whether or not you have permission to use the work as desired.

Was the work created by Eastern University?
If so, most likely you can use the work; however, depending on the nature of the work and the specific use, you may need to contact the Eastern University department from which the work originated.

Do you or Eastern University own a license to use the work?
Many electronic resources are licensed for specific uses and users. For example, a software program may be licensed for institutional use or personal use. Sharing a program purchased for personal use is prohibited.

If you want to use an article that is available in one of the Library’s electronic databases for instructional purposes, we recommend creating a persistent link and inserting the link into Brightspace.

Do you have written permission to use the work for a specific purpose?
Note that you will need permission from the copyright holder which may or may not be the author. The two are frequently not one and the same. See Obtaining Permission for information on how to identify the copyright holder and obtain permission.

Is the work in the public domain?
Works in the public domain are no longer copyrighted and can be freely used. Works may be in the public domain for several reasons:

  • the copyright term limitation has expired;
  • the creator failed to satisfy the necessary requirements to establish copyright;
  • the work was published by the U.S. government.

The rules for determining whether a protected work is in the public domain are set out in chart form. These rules are complex and somewhat hard to describe, partly because they have changed numerous times during the 20th century. The general rules (excluding anonymous works and works for hire) can be summarized as follows:

  • Any work published on or before December 31, 1922 is now in the public domain.
  • Works published between January 1, 1923 and December 31, 1978, inclusive, are protected for a term of 95 years from the date of publication, with the proper notice.
  • But, if the work was published between 1923 and December 31, 1963, when there used to be a (non-automatic) "renewal term," the copyright owner may not have renewed the work. If he or she did  not renew, the original term of protection (28 years) would now be expired and these works will be in the public domain.
  • After 1978, the way we measure the term of protection changes. It is no longer related to a date of publication, but rather runs for 70 years from the date the author dies (called, "life of the author" plus 70 years). Further, publication is irrelevant. Works are protected whether they are published or not.
  • Finally, those works that were created before December 31, 1978, but never published, are now protected for the longer of life of the author plus 70 years or until December 31, 2002.

In addition, books published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1963 can be searched in Stanford's Copyright Renewal Database.

Content adapted by Liberty University from “Copyright in the Library,” University of Texas System. Used under a Created Commons license. Permission granted by Liberty University to reuse.

Fair Use

Fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder for purposes such as criticism, parody, news reporting, research and scholarship, and teaching. While many educational uses may be fair, you need to evaluate your use each time you are reproducing copyrighted material — to show in your class, to hand out copies, to include in your writing, or to post on Brightspace.

There are four factors to consider when determining whether your use is a fair one. You must consider all the factors below, even though all the factors do not have to be in favor of a use to make it a fair one.

The four fair use factors are as follows:

  • Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • Nature of the copyrighted work, such as whether the work is fiction or non-fiction, published or unpublished;
  • Amount of the work used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, such as using a poem in its entirety, or using one chapter from a long book;
  • Effect of the use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work.

You have to apply the four factors to each use situation.  Just because your use is for non-profit educational purposes does not automatically give you permission to copy and distribute other people's work.

Also note that the fair use doctrine is medium neutral and therefore applies equally to films, audio recordings, web content, etc. Some specific exemptions apply with regard to the use of multimedia in the classroom.

We recommend using the Fair Use Checklist to assist you with the analysis and that you save a completed copy of the Checklist for your records.

Broad Requirements for Using Copyrighted Materials
Even if your use of copyrighted materials is "fair use," you should always:

  • Avoid term-to-term use. You have some leeway if you use materials in a classroom setting for only one semester. However, if you intend to continue to use a work, you should obtain permission.
  • Include a copyright notice. Whenever you reproduce (photocopy, scan, etc.) copyrighted work, whatever the length and whether you have advance permission or not, you should include a notice of copyright on the copy in a prominent location.
  • Restrict the distribution of copies. For printed works, do not make more than one copy per student; do not charge the students more than the cost of reproduction; and do not collect the copies back from the students at the end of the course (the copies become the student's property). Violation of any of these rules markedly decreases the protection of the fair use doctrine. For electronic works, see the TEACH Act guidelines on providing access only in connection with a class session and on imposing reasonable downstream controls.
  • Avoid "anthologizing." Anthologizing is the creation of an ad hoc, textbook-like compilation of chapters, monographs and the like from existing sources, in or out of print. If you wish to anthologize, obtain permission from each author whose work you include.
  • Maintain a record. Keep copies of all permission requests and responses to prove that you have made a good faith effort to adhere to the law.

Securing Permission

When In Doubt, Seek Permission
Penalties for copyright infringement are potentially costly for the individual as well as the University. Awards of up to $150,000 for each act of willful infringement may be levied. If you have any doubt regarding the use of materials, you should seek permission from the copyright holder.

Identifying the copyright holder and obtaining permission to use copyrighted works can be challenging and time consuming. We, therefore, recommend that you begin the process early, especially if the materials are for course related use. In such cases where permission is denied, or the use fee is cost prohibitive, you may need to substitute other materials.

Text-based Works
Although printed materials often contain copyright notices with information regarding the copyright holder, these notices are not required. You should, therefore, assume that a work is copyrighted unless otherwise indicated.

For text-based works, such as books and journal articles, you can utilize the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). Fees vary depending on the type of work and how many copies you request. However, if the material is not in the CCC database, you must contact the copyright owner which is most likely the author or publisher. Keep a copy of all correspondence for your records of all the requests you make.

Website Resources
Whenever possible, it is best to create a link directly to website resources. This is always permissible and no copyright issues are involved. However, if you wish to use material from a website for other purposes (e.g., in a compilation work, or for copying and distributing), you will need to go through the same process of determining copyright and/or performing a Fair Use analysis.

Websites often contain information regarding use of materials directly on their pages. Some sites employ a Creative Commons license to inform others of the conditions for use of their Web content. These licenses may indicate special rights for non-commercial use, require attribution, or permit redistribution.

If a web page does not contain information on permissible use, send an e-mail using an appropriate mail link on the site and request permission to use the works. Be sure that you state specifically the intended purpose/use. If the material is not online and no Web site can be found to expedite the permission process, it will be necessary to send the copyright owner a letter to request permission to use the material.

Non-text Media
Educational exemptions apply to specific uses of multimedia works, such as film and audio recordings. See Multimedia Use tab below.  

Denied/Unanswered Permission
If the copyright holder denies permission to use the work, or the fee excessive, the safest course is not to use the material. Theoretically, you are still entitled to make fair use of the material, but under these conditions a court might construe the fair use doctrine quite narrowly. Furthermore, a publisher or other copyright holder whose requested fee hasn't been paid, and who has not been notified that the material will not be used, often will investigate to determine if the material is being used in defiance of its demand.

If don’t receive a reply after a reasonable time (e.g., a month), or if the reply is returned as undeliverable, the safest course is adhere to fair use limits. If you wish to pursue the investigation further, the U.S. Copyright Office will, upon request, search its records for a fee and, if possible, provide you with the name and address of the most recent copyright holder of record. If the material is important to you, resorting to this service would be prudent. Even if the Copyright Office is unable to help you, your attempt demonstrates a good-faith effort to secure permission in the event of a future dispute.

Multimedia Use

Photographs receive automatic copyright protection just as any other work does, yet are more often the subject of copyright infringement due to the ease of republishing photos on the Internet, often without attribution.

Because photos are so often published without attribution, it can be difficult to locate the actual owner of an image’s copyright. Difficulty in locating a rights holder does not, however, provide a strong defense to copyright infringement.

There are a number of organizations which license notable and stock photographs from their vast collections. It may take a dedicated search to produce the rights information if you are searching for a specific photograph. These organizations have numerous licensing plans, ranging from one-time fees for unlimited use to royalty-based systems.

Stock photos are often generic images, and can be licensed for less money than those of larger image banks. Nearly all images on stock photograph websites are available for one-time payments with no royalties, meaning that once you acquire the rights to the image you don’t have to worry about payments for each and every reproduction.

It is advisable to check the Digital Images Rights Computator (DIRC) to help in assessing the intellectual property status of a specific image documenting a work of art, a designed object, or a portion of the built environment in order to make an informed decision regarding the intended educational use of an image. This calculator is made available by the Visual Resources Association (VRA).

The Music Library Association’s Guidelines for Educational Use of Music indicates that 10% of a work may be used in teaching, but Fair Use practices should be followed.

The rules governing the showing of copyrighted videos are the same as those governing any other copyrighted performance. A purchased, rented or borrowed film from the University Library videos may be used in a classroom setting in conjunction with face-to-face instruction. Care should be taken to comply with any special terms in the rental or purchase agreements.

This guide may help in making decisions for obtaining and viewing films in a classroom setting- Copyright and Using Video

Other Suggestions:
A)  Show the full length of a movie during regular class time: It is legal to show the full length of a movie during regular class time where only enrolled students and the instructor are present and in situations when viewing the movie in its entirety is required for the course.
B) Use Video Streaming Services purchased by the Library: These databases offer links to specific programs that can be added to your  Brightspace sites for student access, and also allow for the creation of clips and compilations that can be shared.  
C) Use commercial avenues:  Instructors may send their students to commercial sources of films available for streaming such as Netflix, Amazon, iTunesU, etc.
D) Use video clips for educational purposes:  There are copyright laws that discuss the technical means for making copies of film and others that describe the rules governing the use of media for educational purposes. Section 1201 (a) (1) of the copyright law allows the decryption of copy protection of motion picture media (such as DVD, VHS, Blu-ray) that are lawfully made and acquired, for the purposes of creating short clips for criticism and study purposes for professors and media studies students.  Currently, this option is not available at Eastern University.
E) Use traditional Reserves services: Instructors may request that materials be placed on reserve at the Library.

Using Material Found on the Internet
While new technologies may facilitate the easy placement online and instantaneous dissemination of text, images, and sounds, they do not nullify copyright protection. You should assume that most of the materials on the Internet are copyrighted, including electronic mail messages. Once an expression is committed to tangible medium, including a computer file, it is protected. No notice is required. So unless a work is in the public domain or the copyright owner allows further reproduction, unauthorized copying in excess of fair use or other lawful exceptions is prohibited.

When working on the Internet keep in mind:

  • It is tempting to copy or download software and other electronic information sources with the press of a keystroke; however, remember that ease of use does not make it lawful;
  • Look for a copyright notice, or a Creative Commons License, on other materials to help determine what use is permissible;
  • Unless permission to use the materials is explicitly stated, falls within fair use or one of the other limitations on the rights of copyright owners or is subject to a license, do not copy, download, scan, digitize, or forward materials without the explicit consent of the copyright owner as documented in writing. Do not re-post such material on your own web site without permission. Instead, use a link to the source material.

Content adapted from “Copyright Basics,” and Obtaining Copyright Permissions Libguide, University of Michigan Library.

Course Reserves

It is the responsibility of individual faculty members to determine whether or not they possess the right to copy works, whether in whole or in part, for course related use including reserves. Generally speaking, if the request calls for only a single copy to be placed on reserve, the Library may photocopy an entire article, or an entire chapter from a book, or an entire poem. However, according to the American library Association’s model policy, requests for multiple copies on reserve should meet the following guidelines:

  • The amount of material should be reasonable in relation to the total amount of material assigned for one term of a course taking into account the nature of the course, its subject matter and level, 17 U.S.C. SS107(1) and (3);
  • The number of copies should be reasonable in light of the number of students enrolled, the difficulty and timing of assignments, and the number of other courses which may assign the same material, 17 U.S.C. SS107(1) and (3);
  • The material should contain a notice of copyright, see 17 U.S.C. SS401;
  • The effect of photocopying the material should not be detrimental to the market for the work. (In general, the library should own at least one copy of the work.) 17 U.S.C. SS107(4).

Note that classroom or reserve use of copied materials in multiple courses or successive years will normally require advance permission from the owner of the copyright (17 U.S.C. SS107(3)). For this reason, the Library will not keep copies on reserve for more than one semester without obtaining permission. In such cases, faculty should be aware of alternatives:

  • If the article exists in one of the Warner Memorial Library’s databases, a  persistent link can be created within Brightspace;
  • Find a suitable work online and create a link (Note: There are many open access journals available online. In addition, most classics are considered public domain and available online.)
  • As a research exercise, faculty can simply provide the citation and allow students to locate the article in the Library’s database.

Music Educators

The National Association for Music Education Music provides some specialized guidance on copyright for music educators.

On this page, you will find a helpful introduction to copyright, especially as it relates to issues of music, music recording, and classroom use.  This page will help you understand “fair use of copyright material, and if you need to seek specific copyright permissions.  There is also a section on Licensing Resources that can guide someone interested in securing a license to use copyrighted material.