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Copyright & Reserves: Intro



Library Resources

About Copyright

Copyright is a legal set of rights designed to protect the intellectual property of content creators (e.g. authors, academics, artists, musicians) for works that exist in a fixed, tangible medium of expression. In other words, copyright protects the things that people create. Copyright Law is codified in Title 17 of the U.S. Code (per the Copyright Act of 1976) and applies to all original works created under the jurisdiction of U.S. law.

Examples of "authorship" under Copyright Law include: Literary works; Original research; Dramatic works, including accompanying music; Choreography; Photographs, graphic, and sculptural works; Motion pictures and other audiovisual works; Sound recordings.

What Is Fair Use?

In U.S. Copyright Law there are limited exceptions whereby copyrighted material may be used without obtaining written permission from the author or artist or publisher.  These limited exceptions have been labeled “Fair Use.” For example a person writing a book review for the newspaper does not have to obtain the author’s permission to use a quote from the book, if the use of the quote is within the context of the book review.

(NOTE to students: This is NOT the same as citing your sources for an assignment. Sources must be cited.)

Fair Use Illustrated

Classroom Use of Copyrighted Materials

All content used for instruction, including Course Reserves, must comply with U.S. Copyright Law. Prior to using material for classroom instruction the Instructor must:

  • determine that the content falls within the public domain, or
  • obtain permission from the copyright owner, or
  • determine, after a reasonable analysis, that the content is fair use for which permission is not required.

Columbia University's Fair Use Checklist

One instrument that is helpful in determining if you have met the standard for Fair Use is Colombia University's fair use checklist.  If the fair use analysis leads you to believe that reserve use isn't fair, you need to ask for permission.