Digital Information and Copyright
Color flatbed scanners, 35mm-slide scanners, audio and video digitizing boards -- all these simple-to-use and relatively inexpensive devices enable faculty, staff or students to copy onto their computers' hard drives enormous quantities of media. These media could be original works, public-domain materials, royalty-free, license-free materials or copyrighted materials.
The purpose of this document is to help you become aware of copyright issues as you begin developing multimedia materials for your WWW pages. This document is not intended to be legal advice (for that, see U.S. copyright law); rather it aims to provide some guidelines for you as you develop your Web site.
- Dealing with Copyright
- Special Considerations
- A Final Note
- Additional Resources
- Sample Letter
- Restricting Access to World Wide Web Resources
Copyright:The owner of copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce a protected work; to prepare derivative works that only slightly change the protected work; to sell or lend copies of the protected work to the public; to perform protected works in public for profit; and to display copyrighted works publicly (including via the Web). These basic exclusive rights of copyright owners are subject to exceptions, depending on the type of work and the type of use made by others. The term "work" used in copyright law refers to any original creation of authorship produced in a tangible medium. Thus, works that can be copyrighted include literary pieces, musical compositions, dramatic selections, dances, photographs, drawings, paintings, sculpture, diagrams, advertisements, maps, motion pictures, radio and television programs, sound recordings and, by special legislation passed by Congress in 1980, computer software programs.
Derivative Work: A work based upon one or more pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work."
Fair Use: The use of a portion of copyrighted material in a way that does not infringe the owner's rights. The use of a portion of material for educational purposes, literary criticism or news reporting is often considered a fair use.
Public Domain/Royalty-Free: Belonging to the public; not protected by copyright. In the United States, copyrighted works, with some exceptions, become public domain 70 years after the author's death.
Individuals are responsible for adhering to standard copyright laws and policies. Be sure that in the creation of your Web pages you have not included any information that might violate the rights of a copyright holder. Examples include text from contributors, photographs or graphics. You should assume that the same restrictions and obligations that govern print documents also will apply in the copyright protection of Web pages and documents. In the context of this UVM server, educational use and fair use guidelines do not apply.
Electronic publishing is much like publishing in any other medium; generally, materials cannot be used without the author's permission. This is not an issue if one is publishing a collection of personal works, but it is crucial when distributing the works of others.
Written consent from the copyright owner is required in order to use or serve copyrighted works. Documentation of consent must be kept in your records and made available to university officials upon request. These requirements apply to anything copyrighted, including (but not limited to):
- Student papers
- Computer software
- Video and audio clips
- Logos and graphic designs
id="deal">Dealing With Copyright
One of the biggest concerns regarding copyrights, permissions and educational use is the exploding use of multimedia. It is not the purpose of this document to alarm you or create an undue sense of difficulty in pursuing multimedia projects. This document is meant to provide a checklist as you explore these new and powerful educational tools.Create your own materials:
The university strongly encourages you to make use of original works, public domain materials and royalty-free, license-free materials as often as possible.Seek permission to use copyrighted works:
Obtain permission online via the Copyright Clearance Center. For a small fee, this organization will work on your behalf to obtain permissions often in as little as 24 hours.Work with the copyright owner:
We recommend that you keep a journal of your multimedia project from the very first idea. Log all development --the computer programs being tested and used, the intended method or computer for delivery and all image, audio and visual clips being considered -- as well as your permission-seeking efforts.
Write for permission to use the materials if you intend on using the materials for an extended basis, plan on showing the project campus or want to make your project commercially available.
Because UVM is an educational institution rather than a commercial developer of multimedia products, you usually find media copyright holders are cooperative and generous. Because you are educators rather than commercial developers, if you are not going to be attempting to take your multimedia projects to market, it may be sufficient to ask copyright holders for the following permissions:
- The right to digitize certain pieces of materia.
- The right to use that material within the context of the planned project.
- The right to continue using the project from semester to semester (indefinitely if possible).
- The right to place a copy of the project on the campus network, with access restricted to faculty and students affiliated
This sample letter may be of assistance in obtaining copyright permissions.
While most, if not all, textual material published before 1931 is now in the public domain, textual material published after this date may still be protected. In addition, non-published textual material may be protected. This means, for example, that with collections of authors' papers given to a university library, unless the estate assigned all the rights to the university, the university owns the physical documents and may allow the public to look at them, but may have no rights to extract from, compile or in any way publish or release the use of those texts to others, within or outside the institution.
For recorded speeches you need the permission of the author of the speech, speaker and owner of the audio or video recording containing the speech.
Many, but not all, government publications are available in the public domain.
A Final Note
U.S. copyright law was created to balance the rights of authors with the free exchange of ideas. It is the desire the university to respect the rights of all authors of original material and do everything possible to follow the letter and spirit of the copyright laws.
XYZ Publishing, Inc.
White Plains, NY 10604
Dear Copyright Owner:
I am writing to ask permission
to reprint a listing from Copyright Today magazine. Information on the listing
Publication: Copyright Today
Date: April 1993
Vol./No.: Vol. 15, No. 4
Title: The Stock Report
I intend to use your article on a campus Web site at the University of Vermont (http://www.uvm.edu/~mysite/). The paper will be referenced in our explanation of designing stock reports to be used by approximately 200 university students, staff, and faculty. The page containing the article will be restricted to on-campus use only. I anticipate using the article for a period of two to three years.
Thank you for considering this request. I am including a copy of this letter for your convenience.
Sincerely, Pat Q. Mediaperson
Last modified September 13 2011 01:06 PM