This Copyright QuickPolicy was created by the SRU Copyright Policy Task Force.
It resides on this site for the benefit of the Slippery Rock University community.
Slippery Rock University supports the responsible publishing of course packs for the use of students in their course work. This QuickPolicy includes the main points you need to know about the Copyright Law of the United States as it relates to course packs for use in higher education settings.
Disclaimer: SRU assumes no responsibility for violation of laws pertaining to the publication, assembly, or use of course packs by faculty or students, and makes this good faith effort to inform you of your responsibilities in this regard. It is the policy of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania to apply the Copyright Law of the United States in pursuit of the University's academic mission.
A course pack is a custom-published compendium of readings and other print course materials for use by students enrolled in a class. Electronic course packs, or “e-packs” are the digital equivalent, frequently issued on a CD. At SRU course packs are produced by Printing Services and sold by the Bookstore to students enrolled in a particular class.
The big challenge for the professor assembling a course pack is the danger of committing copyright violations when requesting multiple copies of content for use by students. Printing Services will not go forward printing a course pack until the professor demonstrates one or more of the following:
See part 3 below for explanations.
Most important: in no case will Printing Services produce a course pack intended for sale to students unless all the materials included in it are exempt, or explicit permission has been granted to sell the reproduced material in a course pack.
Part 1 - What is Copyright?
Visual artists including painters, photographers and graphics designers; filmmakers, musicians, composers, and writers rely on the sale of their creative work to earn a living. There is a system in place to make sure authors get paid and get credit when their intellectual property is used or copied by someone else. Look for the copyright symbol © at the beginning or end of a printed work, or on the title screen of a media production for information about the copyright owner.
Copyright law exists to provide legal protection for the creator and the work.
Examples of copyrightable works include: photographic images, paintings, drawings and sketches; web art, designs for buildings, furniture, interiors, and landscapes; motion pictures, television programs and web videos; recordings of music performances and scores, the spoken word, and any form of text, whether handwritten, printed, or saved as a digital copy.
Something doesn’t have to be published to have copyright protection. When any form of intellectual property is distributed without the permission of the copyright owner, depriving the owner of the opportunity to profit from the reproduction of the work, the law is being broken.
Some forms of expression are not covered by copyright law and are considered to be in the “Public Domain”. These include works that are either ineligible for copyright protection, or with expired copyrights. All works published before 1923, works of the United States Government, or the underlying idea that is expressed or manifested in the creation of a work are considered to be in the public domain, and thus free of copyright restrictions.
For more copyright basics, see the U.S. Copyright brochure.
Part 2 - The Consequences of Violating the Law
Just because it is possible to include complete journal articles, pictures, tables and graphs in your course pack does not mean that it is legal to do so. While technology and the internet make it easily possible to copy and disseminate intellectual property in a wide range of formats, violations also are easier to detect and to prove. If you are found to have possible copyright violations in your course materials both you and the University could be drawn into lengthy, time-consuming, and costly legal proceedings. Sections 501 to 515 of the Copyright Law of the United States, under “Chapter 5: Copyright Infringement and Remedies” of the copyright law http://www.copyright.gov/title17/ explain in detail.
Part 3 - When should I consider producing a course pack? Here are some basic guidelines:
Part 4 - What is the responsible way to make sure you are following the law when you are planning to publish a course pack for use by your students?
Part 5 - What are examples of situations that faculty ask about when they are putting together course packs?