Click on one of the following links to go to information about copyright at Shelton State Community College:
General Information
Public Domain
Fair Use
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
Mp3 Files
Copyright and Web Pages
Copyright and Distance Education
College Policies Related to Copyright
Library Reserves
Additional Resources on Copyright in Education
Student Works and Copyright

The purpose of this web page is to provide educational information that promotes the Copyright Act to students and employees of Shelton State Community College.  Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, this page is not intended to provide legal advice about copyright.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright "is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of 'original works of authorship,' including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.  This protection is available to both published and unpublished works."  For more details, see the website of the U.S. Copyright Office at,  the Primer on Copyright Use produced by North Carolina State University, the Copyright Digital Scholarship Center of North Carolina State University Libraries, or the copyright pages of the University of Colorado at Boulder

In general, Section 106 of the Copyright Act of 1976 gives the copyright owner exclusive rights to the following, allowing him or her to authorize others likewise:

  • To reproduce the works in copies or phonorecords
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.
  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures, and other audiovisuals
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission

Authors of visual art also have the rights of attribution and integrity, as described in Section 106A of the Copyright Act of 1976.  Additional information regarding the registration of works of visual arts can be found in Circular 40, "Copyright Regulation for Works of the Visual Arts," prepared by the U.S. Copyright Office.

While it is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights established for copyright owners, there are limitations or exceptions to these rights.  Of particular interest to educators and students are four exceptions under certain conditions:  works in the public domain, "Fair Use," the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the "TEACH Act."   These are described in more detail below.

Copyrighted works may eventually fall into the "public domain" and, at that point, may be freely used without permission.  In general, such works include those for which the copyright has expired or has been lost, works produced by the federal government, and works that lack sufficient originality to qualify for copyright protection (e.g., standard calendars, charts, rulers, etc.).  For more specific information regarding dates at which copyright protection ends, see the chart provided by Cornell University at .

Many copyright owners will grant permission to use their works under certain circumstances.  The University of Colorado at Boulder provides a good introduction to those who wish to seek permission to use a variety of types of copyrighted materials (print, non-print, movies, records, etc.) at . The Copyright Clearance Center provides services for obtaining copyright permissions for both print and electronic resources used in traditional and distance learning classes.  Shelton State Community College does not seek permissions for including copyrighted materials on faculty or student webpages (i.e., "noninstitutional" pages as defined in College web page policies).  Anyone interested in using such materials on individual webpages should secure, in advance, in writing, permission of the copyright holder and provide a copy of that documentation to the College's designated copyright agent.  Anyone who posts copyrighted materials on his/her web page or a college web page without first securing and providing proof of permission from the copyright holder is individually liable for copyright infractions.  Individuals who seek copyright approvals are advised to document their efforts and results.

Instructors who wish to use copyrighted materials in coursepacks (developed for sale like textbooks) may submit a request with relevant information to book stores.  The  Copyright Clearance Center can be contacted to secure approvals and royalty information prior to publication and sale of copyrighted materials in coursepacks. q


The "Fair Use" doctrine allows educators and students to use copyrighted materials without seeking prior approval to certain types of resources under certain conditions.  The fact alone that the intended use is educational does not remove restrictions;  the "four fair use factors" must be considered in total:

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

"Fair Use" analysis is based on reasonable efforts by reasonable individuals and, as a result, is sometimes subjective.  Educators enjoy some protection from infringement lawsuits because of Section 504(c)(2) of the Copyright Act.  This protection is called "the good faith fair use defense" and is based on "a reasonable, good faith determination" by educational employees that their use of copyrighted materials falls under the exceptions for "fair use":  i.e., employees, acting within the scope of their employment, who make a reasonable, good faith decisions that their use of copyrighted materials falls under the "Fair Use" doctrine, are protected from statutory damages in court cases that find copyright infringements have occurred if they believe and have reasonable grounds for believing that their use was fair.   Additional information regarding "Fair Use," can be found at the following websites:

Circular 21:  Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Teachers and Librarians (U.S. Copyright Office)
A Look at Uncertainty in Copyright Law and the Virtual Classroom (University of Colorado at Boulder)

A good checklist to help make a decision on the "four fair use factors" is available at the website of Cornell University.  A number of tools are listed and linked on the Stanford University Libraries Copyright and Fair Use page.   These resources may be used to determine whether or not an intended use of a copyrighted item falls under the "Fair Use" doctrine.

Shelton State Community College students are expected, within the context of the college's Computer Resources Use policy and other applicable college regulations, to act responsibly and legally by applying "Fair Use" principles to the completion of their activities and projects.  The College does not assume legal responsibility for violations of applicable copyright law.  Student employees are subject to the same college policies on copyright as faculty and staff.

In 1998, Congress revised copyright provisions to meet the demands of the digital age and to offer certain protections to educational entities that offer online resources, thus qualifying as Online Service Providers (OSPs).  More specifically, the DMCA:

  • Prohibits the "circumvention" of  "technological protection measures" (e.g., password or form of encryption) used by a copyright holder to restrict access to its material;
  • Prohibits the manufacture or offering of any device or service designed to defeat such protective measures;
  • Makes no change to the "Fair Use" doctrine and expressly states that valuable activities based on the "Fair Use" doctrine (e.g., reverse engineering, security testing, privacy protection, and encryption research) do not constitute illegal "anti-circumvention";
  • Exempts any OSP or carrier of digital information (including libraries) from copyright liability because of the content of a transmission made by a user of the provider's or carrier's system (e.g., the user of a library system or college network);
  • Establishes a mechanism for a provider to avoid copyright infringement liability due to the storage of infringing information on an OSP's own computer system, or the use of "information location tools" and hyperlinks, if the provider acts "expeditiously to remove or disable access to" "infringing material identified in a formal notice by the copyright holder;
  • Additional exemptions are considered by Congress every two years; certain exemptions are available for faculty and students; see Anticircumvention Rulemaking on the website of the US Copyright Office for details and updates.

Shelton State Community College employees and students are reminded that it is illegal under Federal law (Title 17 of the US Code and more recently the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 105 PL 304) to distribute copyrighted music in any form, including digital mp3 files, without a license to do so from the copyright holder. It is a violation of College policies to use the campus network for illegal activities, or in ways that consume capacity and services needed for instruction, research, and other core purposes. The individual using electronic resources (e.g., computers, campus network, Internet access, etc.) is responsible for adhering to all college polices and guidelines as well as all copyright and legal restrictions.

The 2002 Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act updates U.S. Copyright law to extend privileges for legally using copyrighted materials with distance education technology and clarifies terms and conditions under which educational institutions can use copyrighted materials in an online educational format without permission from the copyright owner.  

TEACH allows instructors and students at an accredited, nonprofit educational institution to transmit performances and displays of copyrighted works as part of a course if certain conditions are met. If these conditions are not or cannot be met, use of the material will have to qualify as fair use.  If not, permission from the copyright holder(s) must be obtained.  The provisions of the TEACH Act require certain administrative and technological restrictions on the distribution of copyrighted materials as well as education of instructors and students in copyright requirements, as outlined in College policy. 

Some of the key elements of the TEACH Act include: 

  • Limit access to copyrighted works to students currently enrolled in class;
  • Limit access only for the time needed to complete the class session or course;
  • Inform instructors, students, and staff of copyright laws and policies;
  • Prevent further copying or redistribution of copyrighted works;
  • Do not interfere with copy protection mechanisms;
  • Apply "Fair Use" doctrine to print and digital environments;
  • Apply "Fair Use" doctrine even when there are no established guidelines for particular uses of copyrighted materials


Web pages hosted by Shelton State Community College are subject to all copyright policies.  Any individual who wishes to post copyrighted materials on his/her web page or a college webpage is advised to secure, in advance, in writing, permission of the copyright holder and provide a copy of that documentation to the College's designated copyright agent.  Anyone who posts copyrighted materials on his/her web page or a college web page without first securing and providing proof of permission from the copyright holder is individually liable for copyright infractions.   "Non-institutional pages," as defined in college policy (e.g., those developed and maintained by individual college employees) must carry the following statement:

"The views, opinions, and conclusions expressed in this page are those of the author or organization and not necessarily those of Shelton State Community College or its officers and trustees.  The content of this page has not been reviewed or approved by Shelton State Community College, and the author or organization is solely responsible for its content."

Removal of official college content, especially course materials, can be harmful to academic freedom, to teaching effectiveness, and to the college's educational mission. Therefore, faculty and staff are encouraged to secure copyright permission, or a license, or a legal basis for use of someone else's intellectual property without permission, before using the material.  Instructors involved in distance education may use copyrighted materials that meet requirements of college policies and procedures (published elsewhere by the college) and that meet the following, as prescribed by the TEACH Act:

  1. Avoid use of commercial works that are sold or licensed for purposes of digital distance education.;
  2. Avoid use of pirated works, or works where it is otherwise known that the copy was not lawfully made;
  3. Limit use of works to an amount and duration comparable to what would be displayed or performed in a live physical classroom setting;
    For example, TEACH does not authorize the digital transmission of textbooks or coursepacks to students.
    The Checklist posted by the University of North Carolina is helpful in determining appropriate limitations.
  4. Supervise the digital performance or display, make it an integral part of a class session, and make it part of a systematic mediated instructional activity.
    For example, instructors should interactively use the copyrighted work as part of a class assignment in the distance education course.
    It should not be an entertainment add-on or passive background/optional reading.
    Enrolled students may post to distance education class pages as long as there is actual supervision by the instructor.
    Actual supervision does not require prior approval for posting nor does it require real-time or constant presence of the instructor.
  5. Access to software tools provided by the College limits use by students enrolled in the course, prevents downstream copying by those students, and prevents students from retaining the works for longer than a “class session.”
  6. Notification to students that the works may be subject to copyright protection and that they may not violate the legal rights of the copyright holder, as indicated below, is posted on all distance education class sites:
    The materials on this course web site are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for the purposes
        associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated.

COLLEGE POLICIES RELATED TO COPYRIGHT (requires access to the College's inside page)
No. 210-11 Computer Software Use
No. 210-14 Publication of Information on the World Wide Web
No. 210-17 Acceptable Use of the AL Supercomputer Authority
No. 210-18 Computer Resources Use

All copyright guidelines apply to library reserves.  Click here for additional information on library reserves.

Faculty members should be aware that students own the copyright to their work, including papers and assignments they have completed; therefore student works are protected by copyright regulations.  Faculty should have written permission from the student copyright holder to use their works.  Any student work that is to be placed on reserve must be accompanied by the written and signed permission of the student to do so (specifying name, contact information, title of item[s], statement giving permission, and dates included).



Updated 3/26/12