Copyright for Teaching & Research
Fair Use allows educators greater freedom in using copyrighted materials.
Copyright is held for a limited time so that copyrighted works do, in time, come into the public domain. Title 17 of the United States Code, the United States Copyright Act, also places limitations on the exclusive rights to copyrighted material during the time the material is covered by copyright. One important limitation is commonly known as the Fair Use Exemption in the Copyright Act.
The fair use exemption states that fair use is the use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords . . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.
It is up to you to determine if the material to be used falls within Fair Use.
To determine this, you must consider these four factors:
- the purpose of the use of the copyrighted work,
- the nature of the copyrighted work,
- the amount of the copyrighted work to be used, and
- the effect of reproduction on the sale of the copyrighted work.
Use this fair use check-list developed by Columbia University Libraries when determining if your planned use of copyrighted material is permitted under fair use.
There exist situations where the Fair Use Exemption does not apply.
You are responsible for obtaining copyright permission for any use of materials that does not comply with the fair use exemption, or any other exemption provided by the Copyright Act. Recognizing when you will need to obtain copyright permission often depends on the nature of the material being used and the length of time you will be making the copyrighted material available.
For example, the fair use exemption does not allow for the reproduction of large portions of a work or for making it available for a long period of time, because this can affect the sale of the work (the third and fourth factors of the fair use exemption).
The right way to give access to library resources.
When possible, link to resource URLs in library subscription databases instead of making copies of the works.
Please add the EZProxy URL to any article link for off-campus access. The EZProxy prefix is https://login.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu/login?url=
Thus the link to Academic Search Premier would look like this: https://login.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=aph
The following material is free to use and does not require copyright clearance.
- material in the public domain. How do I know if something is in the public domain?
- materials with licenses that are less restrictive than copyright, such as those licensed through the Creative Commons. Be sure you understand the particular restrictons tied to these materials. For more on the limits of Creative Commons licenses, see About the Licenses -- Creative Commons.
When copyright clearance is required.
The following materials require copyright clearance.
- Reproductions of any digital copyrighted material that is not password and electronic-duplication protected. See additional information about password/duplication protection.
- Reproductions of entire long works whether in printed or electronic form.
- Reproductions of multiple parts from longer works. Although the U. S. copyright law does not specify the quantity of multiple parts allowed, common practice among many institutions of higher education including Brooklyn College is to limit parts to not more than 10% of the entirety whether in printed or electronic format.
- Reproductions of works as a collection that could serve as a substitute for a published anthology of works by separate authors or a published collection of works by a single author. See additional information about course packs.
- Reproductions of workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and other published consumable material.
- Reproductions of materials from sources under license or contract.
- Reproductions of materials from course cartridges.
Fair Use of Images
This Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study describes six uses of copyrighted still images that the Visual Resources Association (www.vraweb.org) believes fall within the U.S. doctrine of fair use.
The following six uses are:
- Use of images for in-class use.
- Use of images (both large, high-resolution images and thumbnails) on password protected course websites and in other platforms restricted to students and faculty at Brooklyn College.
- Adaptation of images for teaching and classroom work by students.
- Sharing images among educational and cultural institutions to facilitate teaching and study.
- Reproduction of images in theses and dissertations.
- Preservation (storing images for repeated use in a teaching context and transferring images to new formats).
Consider these five variables when determining the fair use of images:
- The copyright status of the underlying work represented in the image.
- The copyright status of the photographic reproduction.
- The specific source from which you have obtained the image under consideration.
- The intended use(s) of the image.
The Digital Image Rights Computator created by the Visual Resources Association can help you do this too.
Questions? Please contact Professor Miriam Deutch, email@example.com. 718.951.5221.
The MLA provides fair use guidelines for faculty and students using music and non-print media.
Copyright for research activities is different from copyright for teaching activities.
Fair Use is interpreted more narrowly in the publishing community than it is in the classroom. Publishers provide copyright guideline for their authors that you may consult. Here is a useful chart for determining what works can be used in your publications without requiring permission: http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm
It is imperative that you include a copyright notice and citation with all materials you use.
When you copy print materials, please be sure to include all source information. For your convenience, you may use the standardized Print Source Cover Page from the Brooklyn College Library and Academic Information Technologies as a cover page.
When you duplicate/present material electronically, you will be instructed by the software you are using to include appropriate copyright notice and citation information. The copyright notice will be embedded into the document/presentation produced.
Obtaining copyright clearance
You may want to use the Copyright Consideror, an online tool that will help you get the job done, or follow these steps:
- Identify the copyright owner(s).
- Beware, especially with music and media, multiple parties may hold the rights and each party must be accounted for when obtaining permission.
- Remember, the absence of a copyright notice does not mean that the work is in the public domain.
- Contact the copyright owner(s) & secure permission.
- Contact the owner directly; or
- Use a collective rights organization such as the Copyright Clearance Center <http://www.copyright.com/>. A collective rights organization may be the only way to get permission in some cases.
Here's a great site where you will find samples of permission letters:
- You may save on fees if you contact a copyright owner directly.
- Request permission only for the portion of the work you need.
- Fees are often based on how many copies will be needed and the length of time copies will be in use.
- Keep a detailed record of your quest for obtaining permission.
- For more information, see:
- Contact the Copyright Coach: AskCopyright@brooklyn.cuny.edu.