Copyright for Faculty: Overview

The Basics

Although you may be the original author of a good deal of your course material, it is very likely that you have also included the works of others, such as written materials, graphs, photographs, images, drawings, illustrations, music, sound recordings, and audiovisual works, including films.

Can you use these works in your courses without having to obtain permission from the copyright holder?  That's the critical question and the answer is rarely easy or uncomplicated, because:

  • Everything is automatically protected by copyright as soon as it is 'fixed' in a tangible medium;
  • Publication, registration, and a copyright notice are not necessary for copyright to attach;
  • An educational use does not automatically mean permission is unnecessary; neither does password-protecting a site or giving proper attribution.

As a faculty member you - not the institution, not the library - are responsible for determining whether permission is required for you to use the intellectual work of others in your courses. This responsibility applies to materials you use or distribute in the classroom, materials you place on reserve in the library, and materials you provide access to from any course web pages you create.

The determination falls into four general categories:

  1. Permission is not needed when the work is in the public domain;
  2. Permission is not needed if the proposed use falls within an exemption granted in the copyright law:
  3. Permission is not needed if:
    • The material is licensed by Berry College (primarily through the library) for your proposed use
    • There are terms and conditions attached to the work or its source that permit your proposed use
  4. If none of the above apply, you must request permission by whatever mechanism your department or school has established.

    Know Your Copy Rights

    For more information, see this brochure & FAQ developed especially for faculty by the Association of Research Libraries.