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Flashpoint Chicago Info Commons: Copyright and Fair Use

The homepage of the Flashpoint Chicago Info Commons/Library

Copyright Basics

COPYRIGHT POLICY

Faculty, staff, students and other members at Columbia College Hollywood and Flashpoint Chicago, a campus of Columbia College Hollywood must comply to U.S. copyright law, Title 17, U.S. Code, 1976.  The college also complies with Fair Use guidelines and the Teach Act of 2002.


What can be copyrighted?

Original works of authorship fixed in any  tangible medium of expression. This includes books, artwork, sculptures, paintings, musical compositions, and many other forms

What can’t be copyrighted?

Ideas, facts, methods of operation, scientific principles contained in the author’s expression, materials produced by the U.S. Government, titles, and names

Duration of copyright

  • After January 1, 1978 – from moment of creation – life of author plus 70 years

  • Joint works – 70 years after the last surviving author’s death

  • Works for hire – 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter (duration of copyright).


THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF COPYRIGHT

Copyright law applies to nearly all creative and intellectual works

For a work to be protected by copyright law, it must be an idea that has been expressed and fixed in some sort of medium. The expression has to be original. To be considered original, there must be a “modicum of creativity” in how it has been expressed. In other words, once you create an original work, and fix it on paper, in clay, or on the drive of your computer, so that the work can be reproduced in some format, then the work is considered copyrightable. Therefore, copyright law protects a wide and diverse array of materials. Books, journals, photographs, works of visual art and sculpture, music, sound recordings, computer programs, websites, film, architectural drawings, choreography and many other materials are within the reach of copyright law. If you can see it, read it, hear it, or watch it, it likely is captured by copyright.

Works are protected automatically, without copyright notice or registration

Copyright protectable works receive instant and automatic copyright protection at the time that they are created. U.S. law today does not require placing a notice of copyright on the work or registering the work with the U.S. Copyright Office. The law provides some important benefits if you do use the notice or register the work, but you are the copyright owner even without these formalities.

THE MEANING OF COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP

Owners hold specific rights but not all rights

  • The law grants to copyright owners a series or bundle of specified rights:
    Reproduction of works

  • Distribution of copies

  • Making of derivative works

  • Public performance and display of works.

  • In addition, certain works of visual art have moral rights regarding the name of the artist on the work, or preventing the destruction of them.

  • Copyright owners may also have rights to prevent anyone from circumventing technological protection systems that control access to the works.

In addition, certain works of visual art have moral rights regarding the name of the artist on the work, or preventing the destruction of them. Copyright owners may also have rights to prevent anyone from circumventing technological protection systems that control access to the works.

Author is the first copyright owner

As a general rule, the initial owner of the copyright is the person who does the creative work. If you wrote the book or took the photograph, you are the copyright owner.

Exceptions to the rule: creating a work on someone’s behalf (work for hire)

If you created the work as an employee, acting within the scope of your employment, then the copyright owner is your employer. In addition, if you are a freelancer, and where your contract specifies that you have created a work as a “work made for hire”, then the first owner of the copyright is the person that contracted you to create it.

Copyright can be transferred

Copyright owners can give or sell their rights to others. Even in cases of employment or where a copyright protected work was created as a “work made for hire” copyright can be assigned or transferred back to the author. In addition, rights can be transferred temporarily by contract. These contracts are often called licensing agreements. A recipient of right by way of licensing agreement only has the ability to exercise those rights that are specified directly in the agreement. At the end of the life of the licensing agreement, those rights revert back to the copyright owner.

Copyright and publishing Agreements

In an academic setting, we are frequently asked to transfer copyright in our books and articles to publishers. It is not a requirement of publication that rights be assigned or transferred permanently to a publisher. The right to publish can be licensed to the publisher temporarily or on a non-exclusive basis. The ability to transfer or retain our copyrights is an opportunity to be good stewards of our intellectual works and maintain our intellectual legacy.

 

Copyright Expires

The basic term of protection for works created today is for the life of the author, plus seventy years. In the case of "works made for hire", copyright lasts for the lesser of either 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation of the work. The duration rules for works created before 1978 are altogether different, and foreign works often receive distinctive treatment. Not only is the duration of copyright long but the rules are fantastically complicated. Below you will find links to a number of resources to assist in guiding you through a copyright duration question.

Copyright owners may allow public non-exclusive uses

A copyright owner may grant rights to the public to use a protected work. That grant could be a simple statement on the work explaining the allowed uses, or it may be a selection of a Creative Commons license. Similarly, the movement to make works "open access" or "open source" is a choice by the owner of rights to make works available to the public.

The public domain

Some works lack copyright protection, and they are freely available for use without the limits and conditions of copyright law. Copyright eventually expires too. When a work lacks copyright protection or where copyright has expired, it is said that the work enters the public domain. Works produced by the U.S. government are not copyrightable. Copyright also does not protect facts, ideas, discoveries, and methods.


This information is licensed by a Creative Commons Attribution License with attribution to its author Dr. Kenneth D. Crews (formerly of Columbia University)

Creative Commons License

Teach Act

The “Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act,” commonly known as the “TEACH Act,” was enacted by Congress on October 4, 2002. It is a full revision of Section 110(2) of the U.S. Copyright Act. Its provisions enable educators to use copyrighted materials for distance education, with certain restrictions.

For more in depth information about the Teach Act and how it applies to you, please visit the following links:

Information from American Library Association (ALA)

Information from Copyright.com

Information from Copyright.gov

Law cases for copyright and fair use

Additional Resources

Public Domain

Fair Use

Fair Use Basics

Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.  Section 107 calls for consideration of the following four factors in evaluating a question of fair use: (Copyright.gov)

 

  • The Purpose and Character of your use (commercial vs. nonprofit/educational use)

  • Nature of the copyrighted work This factor analyzes the degree to which the work that was used relates to copyright’s purpose of encouraging creative expression

  • Amount and Substantiality of the of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole 

  • Effect of the use upon the potential market Here, courts review whether, and to what extent, the unlicensed use harms the existing or future market for the copyright owner’s original work (Duration of Copyright).


Fair Use Checklist

Introduction to the Checklist

The Fair Use Checklist and variations on it have been widely used for many years to help educators, librarians, lawyers, and many other users of copyrighted works determine whether their activities are within the limits of fair use under U.S. copyright law (Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act). The four factors form the structure of this checklist.  Congress and courts have offered some insight into the specific meaning of the factors, and those interpretations are reflected in the details of this form.

BENEFITS OF USING THE CHECKLIST

A proper use of this checklist should serve two purposes.  First, it should help you to focus on factual circumstances that are important in your evaluation of fair use.  The meaning and scope of fair use depends on the particular facts of a given situation, and changing one or more facts may

alter the analysis.  Second, the checklist can provide an important mechanism to document your decision-making process.  Maintaining a record of your fair use analysis can be critical for establishing good faith; consider adding to the checklist the current date and notes about your project.  Keep completed checklists on file for future reference.

THE CHECKLIST AS A ROAD MAP

As you use the checklist and apply it to your situations, you are likely to check more than one box in each column and even check boxes across columns.  Some checked boxes will favor fair use and others may oppose fair use.  A key issue is whether you are acting reasonably in checking any given box, with the ultimate question being whether the cumulative weight of the factors favors or turns you away from fair use.  This is not an exercise in simply checking and counting boxes.  Instead, you need to consider the relative persuasive strength of the circumstances and if the overall conditions lean most convincingly for or against fair use.  Because you are most familiar with your project, you are probably best positioned to evaluate the facts and make the decision.

CAVEAT

This checklist is provided as a tool to assist you when undertaking a fair use analysis.  The four factors listed in the Copyright Statute are only guidelines for making a determination as to whether a use is fair.  Each factor should be given careful consideration in analyzing any specific use.  There is no magic formula; an arithmetic approach to the application of the four factors should not be used.  Depending on the specific facts of a case, it is possible that even if three of the factors would tend to favor a fair use finding, the fourth factor may be the most important one in that particular case, leading to a conclusion that the use may not be considered fair.

FAIR USE CHECKLIST

Here is a PDF of the Fair Use Checklist for your own use.

 


The Checklist and this introduction is licensed by a Creative Commons Attribution License with attribution to the original creators of the checklist Kenneth D. Crews (formerly of Columbia University) and Dwayne K. Buttler (University of Louisville).

Creative Commons License