[Adapted with permission from Austin Community College and Indiana University.]


What is copyright?

CCS Board of Trustess copyright policy (7.50.20) and administrative procedure.

Copyright is part of U.S. (Title 17, U.S. Code) and international law granting rights and protection to authors and developers of creative works. Among the rights granted are the right to:

  • reproduce the work
  • prepare derivative works based on the work
  • distribute copies of the work to the public
  • perform the work publicly
  • display the copyrighted work publicly
  • perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission, and
  • assign these rights to others.

Copyright only protects works that are "fixed in a tangible form of expression." It does not protect ideas or processes (although processes can be patented). Using copyrighted material without the author's consent is a violation of the law. Exceptions to this include works that have passed into the public domain (over 70-years-old) and works used in the manner prescribed under the Fair Use part of the copyright law.

For additional information, review the U.S. Copyright Office's FAQs and Copyright Basics.(Note: This is a PDF -- be sure to click on the pages icon in the upper lefthand corner.)

 Fair use

The concept of Fair Use refers to section 107 of the copyright law. It lays out in very broad terms the conditions under which it is permissible to use copyright-protected materials without getting permission from the author or creator of the work. The following is an excerpt from the copyright law.

[Fair] use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a

Using copyrighted material without the author's consent is a violation of the law.


work in any particular case is a fair use, the factors to be considered shall include

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Moreover, there is a part of the copyright law -- section 504(c)(2) -- that protects people working under the reasonable assumption that Fair Use applies to their activities. To qualify, you need to be sure you have carefully considered the four criteria for fair use listed above. When considering using copyright-protected materials, make sure you have taken all four into consideration. It is recommended you read more about the four criteria and make sure you understand them.

Fair Use for faculty
Fair Use for nonfaculty
Fair Use for Copy Centers and printed materials
Fair Use for electronic reserves
Fair Use for video and broadcast
Fair Use for software
Fair Use for digital media and music materials
Training opportunities
Additional resources

For more information, contact your college/unit copyright compliance officer:

Mary Carr, SCC, 509.533.7045 
Mary Ann Lund Goodwin, SFCC, 533.3820  
Carolyn Casey, District Administration, 509.434.5109 
Rebecca Rhodes, IEL, 509.279.6050