Copyright Information


The following information is from the Association of American Publishers, Questions and Answers on Copyright for the Campus Community. 

The copyright law grants owners of copyright (authors and other creators and publishers) the sole right to do or allow others to do each of the following acts with regard to their copyrighted work:

  1. To reproduce all or part of the work;

  2. To distribute copies;

  3. To prepare new versions based on the original work; and

  4. To perform and display the work publicly.

Copyright protection is available for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.  United States copyright protection for works created on or after January 1, 1978, begins at creation and lasts until fifty years after the author's death.  Works created prior to January 1, 1978, are also subject to copyright protection although the duration of copyright may vary from the terms described above.

Copyright protection covers both published and unpublished works.  The fact that a previously published work is out of print or the author is deceased does not automatically affect its copyright.

Works in the public domain may be freely copied; however, collections and edited versions of works in the public domain may be protected by copyright.  The absence of a copyright notice cannot be relied upon to indicate that a work is in the public domain.

Certain works created by the United States government may be freely copied.  The right to copy U.S. Government-created works without permission; however, does not extend to documents published by others with the support of U.S. Government funds, grants or contracts.

The purchaser of a work owns only that particular copy of the work.  The purchaser does not own any rights in the copyright covering the contents of the purchased copy.  Consequently, a purchaser cannot copy the purchased work, in whole or in part, without the copyright owner's permission unless such copying constitutes "fair use," (see "fair use" description below.)


Penalties for Copyright Infringement

Civil and criminal penalties may be imposed for copyright infringement.  Civil remedies include an award of monetary damages (including substantial statutory damages, which in cases of willfulness after March 1, 1989, may total up to $100,000 per work infringed or actual damages including the infringers profit) an award of attorneys' fees, injunctive relief against future infringement and the impounding and destruction of infringing copies and the plates or other articles used in making such copies.

"Fair Use" (Sec. 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law)

This law permits the use of a copyrighted work, including reproducing portions of that work, without the copyright owner's permission.  In determining whether the use is "fair use," the law requires that the following factors be considered:

  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 of the work used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

  4. The effect of the use in question upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

No one factor is determinative of a person's right to use a copyrighted work without permission.


Permissible Photocopying of Copyrighted Printed Material

Instructors may make a single copy of any of the following for scholarly research or use in teaching or preparing to teach a class:

  1. A chapter from a book;

  2. An article from a periodical or newspaper;

  3. A short story, short essay or short poem;

  4. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper.

Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for classroom use or discussion provided that:

  1. The distribution of the same photocopied materials does not occur every term or year;

  2. The material includes a copyright notice on the first page of the material copied;

  3. The students are not assessed any fee beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.


AND if the following limitations with regard to the amount of copying of a work are applied:

  1. Poetry: (a) a complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or (b) from a longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words.

  2. Prose: (a) either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words. Or (b) an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 or 10% of the work, whichever is less, but in any event a minimum of 500 words.

  3. Illustrations: one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per
    periodical issue.

  4. "Special" works: certain works in poetry, prose or in "poetic prose" which often combine language with illustrations and which are intended sometimes for children and other times for a more general audience fall short of 2,500 words in their entirety may not be reproduced in their entirety; however, an excerpt comprising not more than two of the published pages of such special work and containing not more than 10% of the words found in the text thereof may be reproduced.


AND it meets the cumulative effect test as defined below:

  1. The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made

  2. Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term

  3. There shall not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term.



Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited without permission from the copyright owner.

  1. Copying shall not be used to create or replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations, or collective works.

  2. There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or teaching.  These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets and like consumable material.

  3. Copying shall not:
    a. substitute for the purchase of books, publisher reprints, or periodicals;
    b. be directed by higher authority;
    c. be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.

  4. No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.


Obtaining Permission from the Publisher for Photocopy Use

The permission request for use of photocopied material must communicate complete information to the copyright owner.  The American Association of Publishers suggests that the following information be included in a permission request letter in order to expedite the process:

  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.

  3. Number of copies to be made.

  4. Use to be made of the duplicated materials.

  5. Form of distribution (classroom, newsletter, reserve reading room, etc.)

  6. Whether or not the material is to be sold.

  7. Type of reprint (ditto, photocopy, offset, typeset, photography, etc.)

The request should be sent, together with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to the permission department of the publisher in question.  The process of granting permission requires time. The publisher must check the status of the copyright and evaluate the nature of the request.  It is advisable to allow a substantial lead time to obtain permission prior to the beginning of the second term when the materials will be needed for reserve (or other purposes).

A form letter is available at Circulation Services upon request.  This can be duplicated as needed.

Obtaining Copyright Clearance Options

Library Purchase

The Library can purchase a copy of the book or periodical that will be used as primary reading material for your class.  Requests for purchase of materials need to be made prior to the term it will be used for.


Document Delivery Services

University Microfilms, Inc. and the British Lending Library Document Supply Center are two examples of commercial document delivery suppliers.  Copies of articles may be purchased from them and they will get the copyright clearance. 


SOU Bookstore Copyright Permission Service

The SOU Bookstore has a service to provide anthologies tailored to the need of your courses and seek copyright permission for you.  After copyright permission has been secured, they will prepare course packs for sale at the bookstore.