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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. What is Maricopa Community College District's (MCCCD) policy related to compliance with the Copyright Law?

    No employee or agent of the Maricopa County Community Colleges shall knowingly infringe upon the copyrights of another.

  2. As a MCCCD employee when should you seek and obtain permission to copy or use copyrighted works?

    Employees shall seek and obtain the permission of the copyright owner prior to making use of copyrighted materials unless one of the following exemptions pertains:

    1. The work was never copyrighted. (This is often difficult to ascertain since recent amendments no longer make it mandatory to place the copyright notice on copyrighted works.)
    2. The copyright has expired and the work is a part of the public domain and may be copied freely.
    3. The work lies in the public domain. Examples of works in the public domain are works which were never copyrighted, works where the copyright has expired and works originally published by the U.S. Government.
    4. The copying and/or distribution falls within "fair use."
    5. The copying and/or distribution falls under certain library or archival copying.

  3. What is Copyright?

    Copyright is the exclusive right granted by Congress to the author or originator over his/her work for a certain period of time, generally, lifetime plus 70 years.

  4. What are the exclusive rights granted to the author or originator (copyright holder)?

    1. To reproduce or copy the copyrighted work
    2. To prepare derivative works (modify the work)
    3. To distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, rental, lease or lending.
    4. To perform or display the copyrighted work publicly

  5. What is the legal basis or framework for Copyright?

    Article I, Section 8, Constitution of the United States, provides the basis for the concept of copyright. It empowers the Congress to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for authors and inventors, the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries for a limited time.

  6. When was the first federal copyright law enacted?

    The first federal copyright law was enacted in 1790, with the most recent revision being in 1976 and going into effect, January 1, 1978. The Copyright Act is found in Title 17 of the United States Code, Section 101et seq.

  7. What is the purpose of the copyright law?

    The purpose of the copyright law is to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.

  8. What works are copyrightable?

    Works of authorship that are copyrightable include:

    1. Literary works: novels, nonfiction prose, poetry, newspaper and magazine articles, manuals, including software manuals, catalogs, brochures, advertisements, compilations such telephone as directories.
    2. Musical works: musical performances, sheet music, songs, advertising jingles, instrumentals.
    3. Dramatic works: accompanying music, plays, operas, skits.
    4. Pantomimes and choreographic works: ballets, modern and jazz dance, mime works.
    5. Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works: photographs, posters, maps, charts, paintings, drawings, cartoon strips, cartoon characters, stuffed animals and other works of art.
    6. Motion picture and other audiovisual works: movies, documentaries, travelogues, films and videos, television and cable shows, television and radio commercials, interactive multimedia works and games; recordings.
    7. Sound recordings
    8. Computer software
    9. Architectural works

  9. What is not copyrightable?

    Generally, the following items are not protected by copyright:

    1. Ideas and concepts
    2. Factual information that is common knowledge
    3. Titles
    4. Short phrases
    5. Procedures and processes
    6. Principles of discovery (these may be protected under patent, trademarks and trade secrets)

  10. What is the duration of a copyright?

    For works created in the United States, on or after January 1, 1978, copyright extends through the life of the author plus 70 years.

    Treat any pre-1978 copyright as valid from its date to the end of its 95th year from the date of its original copyright or contact the publisher or the U.S. Copyright Office, to identify the copyright owner so that continued vitality to the copyright can be determined. Note: A copyright generally expires on December 31 of the specified year.

  11. What is the definition of the concept "public domain"?

    Works that are not protected by copyright and that may be used without the permission of the originator. These works may be copied freely. Before using a work, it is always best to assume that the work is copyrighted. When in doubt ask for permission.

  12. When does a work enter the public domain?

    A copyrighted work enters the public domain when the copyright expires, or when copyright holder indicates that the work may be used without permission.

  13. Must a work be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office?

    No. A work is automatically copyrighted when it is "fixed in tangible form or copy." It needs not be registered in order to be protected under the U.S. Copyright Law. However, to bring a suit of infringement in the U.S., the work must be registered. Generally, copyrighted works will include the copyright notice and symbol. Do not assume that because this notation does not appear that you may freely copy the work.

  14. How do I request permission to use copyrighted materials?

    The MCCCD Copyright Policy recommends that the requests for permission be in writing and that the following procedure be followed:

    1. Determine who holds the copyright, then create a letter.
    2. All requests shall identify the user as the Maricopa County Community College District or the appropriate division thereof.
    3. Requests by instructors or administrators should include the following information suggested by the Association of American Publishers Association.
      1. title, author and/or editor, and edition of materials to be duplicated;
      2. exact material to be used giving amount, page numbers, chapters and, if possible a photocopy of the material to be used;
      3. number of copies to be made;
      4. use to be made of duplicated materials;
      5. form of distribution
      6. whether or not the material is to sold, and
      7. type of reprint (ditto, offset, typeset)
    4. The request should be sent, with a self-addressed and stamped return envelope to the permissions department of the publisher.

  15. What is copyright infringement?

    Copyright infringement is the use of a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder (exclusive of "fair use").

  16. What are some common examples of copyright violation?

    Plagiarism-assuming authorship of another's work; and using another's work without permission are common examples of copyright violations.

  17. What are penalties for infringement of copyright?

    A person found to be infringing on copyright can be liable for actual and statutory damages. The penalties may range from $500 to $100,000 per infringement. Other penalties may be assessed.

  18. What is "Fair Use?"

    "Fair use" is the judicial doctrine in the U.S. Copyright Law (Section 107) which allows limited copying or use of copyrighted works in teaching, scholarship, and research situations without the permission of the copyright holder.

  19. What factors or conditions are used to determine whether a work constitutes "fair use"?

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

  20. Are there limitations and restrictions on the educational use of copyrighted works?

    Not all educational use of copyrighted works are automatically covered by "fair use". To eliminate some of the vagueness of the concept "fair use" and to prevent potential infringement, guidelines have been established for classroom and teaching copying.

  21. What are the basic guidelines for making copies of the copyrighted works for research and teaching?

    Works not covered by "fair use" include:

    Copying that is used to recreate, replace or substitute for anthologies or collective works; substitute for purchase of books or periodicals, repetitive copying by the same teacher from term to term; copying directed by higher authority; copying of workbooks, standardized tests, test booklets, answer sheets, etc.

    Works covered by "fair use" include:

    Single copies: Examples of a single copy of the following items may be copied for one's own research or for teaching:

    1. Chapter of book
    2. Article from magazine or newspaper
    3. Short story, essay, poem, whether or not from a collection
    4. Chart, graph, diagram, cartoon or picture from a book or periodical/newspaper.

    Multiple copies:

    An instructor may, without first obtaining permission from the copyright holder, make multiple copies (not to exceed one copy per student in his/her course, for classroom use or discussion. The copies must include copyright notice, and meet the guidelines' tests for brevity, spontaneity and cumulative effect.

  22. As an employee or student of Maricopa County Community Colleges, what are the guidelines for copying articles concerning the colleges?

    1. Articles in newspapers or news periodicals specifically mentioning or concerning the Maricopa County Community Colleges or its employees or students may be copied for circulation and for archival purposes.
    2. Articles described above shall not be reproduced in their publications unless prior permission has been obtained from the publisher.

  23. What is the difference between copyright and intellectual property?

    Copyright is one of four types of intellectual property. The other types include patents, trademarks and trade secrets.


The following copyright guidelines are a brief condensation of the law and related legal documents. They are far too brief to completely encompass the law. Rather, they provide brief summaries of the points most likely to impact anyone involved with copyrighted material. Also, the guidelines presented here do not contain footnote references. The full text of the MCCCD Copyright Guidelines, with footnote references, is available upon request from the Legal Services Department.

  • Foreword
  • General Copyright Guidelines
  • Faculty Copyright Guidelines
  • Student Copyright Guidelines
  • Bibliography

    Applying Copyright Law to a Specific Medium


  • Computer Software
  • Films, Videotapes, Newsletters, Artworks, etc.
  • Libraries or Archives
  • Music
  • Printed Materials
  • Television

    Miscellaneous

  • Copyright Management
  • Copyright Quick Guide
  • Obtaining Permission

    Appendices

  • Appendix Summary
  • Appendix A - Classroom Copying
  • Appendix B - Music
  • Appendix C - Off-Air Recording
  • Appendix D - District Policy Statement on Computer Software
  • Appendix E - CONTU Guidelines for Interlibrary Arrangements
  • Appendix H - Permission Request Form
  • Appendix I - Request for Off-Air Taping
  • Appendix J - Selected Addresses
  • Appendix K - Selected Passages from the Copyright Law

  • REFERENCES AND CREDITS

    Copyright & Fair Use from Stanford University (library.stanford.edu/cpyright.html)

    Copyright Clearance Center (www.copyright.com)

    Copyright Basics (University of Michigan)

    Intellectual Property Information from Maricopa County Community College District Office of General Counsel (http://www.maricopa.edu/legal/ip/index.htm)

    What Students Should Know About Copyright from the Office of General Counsel, Maricopa Community Colleges

    U.S. Copyright Office (lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/)

    Related Links Box

    Related Information Box

    The MCCCD Copyright Guidelines is the framework for the following list of frequently asked questions related to copyright.

    The guidelines, developed by Maricopa County Community College faculty and staff "are intended to assist the students, faculty and staff of the Maricopa County Community Colleges in understanding and complying with the 1976 copyright law (Title 17, United States Code).

    While some areas of the copyright law are clear, there are some portions that remain open to legal and judicial interpretation.

    Additional information was gathered from other websites and resources.

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    Last modified: Monday February 03 2014