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Copyright Guide: Copyright Topics

A focus on copyright issues which may concern TCC faculty and staff -- including fair use, the TEACH Act, public domain and other copyright exceptions and issues. Nothing in this guide is to be construed as legal advice.

Open Access

Open access, or OA, is an umbrella term that can mean different things in different contexts. It usually means the material is free and open (not behind a paywall) online. However, this does not mean there are no copyright restrictions or that the content is licensed for copying or remixing like Creative Commons or OER material. You are free to link to the material, but making copies for others outside of fair use might get you into trouble. Linking to a blog post essay by an expert, an OA journal article, or even a YouTube video can all be ways of using OA material. But, just because it is free to access online does NOT mean you can make copies. Examples of making copies of OA material would be: downloading the article as a PDF and uploading to your Blackboard course instead of just linking to the free content or using software to illegally download YouTube videos and upload to your own educational channel instead of just linking to the content.  

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials like textbooks or other supporting curriculum that are free to access and, depending on the license they were published under, can sometimes be remixed or tweaked to suit another instructor's needs. Often, OER materials are published with a CC (Creative Commons) license, but not always. OER materials still have copyright, but their creators actively give permission (through licenses) for others to access and copy their work for educational purposes. Online OER materials are free, though if a student wants print options those often come with a cost. To learn more about OER, please see our extensive TCC OER Guide

Reserves & E-Reserves

June 2020

In past semesters, many departments have placed reserve textbooks in the library for student use. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the library is not currently offering print course reserves, and will not be able to resume this service for the fall semester. However, library staff are happy to help faculty explore options for providing electronic course reserves within Blackboard. The following are a few guidelines for the library's involvement with electronic course reserves

  • We can help faculty find and evaluate alternative electronic resources, such Open Educational Resources and articles from our databases. While we welcome resource suggestions, we cannot commit to purchasing textbooks due to budgetary restrictions. 
  • We offer copyright guidance and education to help faculty make a fair use assessment. The Access Services Office can also help in obtaining copyright clearance. We are happy to assist with the process, however the ultimate fair use assessment and use decision will remain with the faculty. Library employees cannot commit to creating scans for faculty. 
  • While we do help students find resources, we will refer all questions about course reserves, textbooks, and other course materials to faculty.

Any questions or concerns about electronic reserves, Open Educational Resources, copyright, or alternative resources can be referred to your Subject Liaison Librarian, or one of your campus librarians. This information, and more, can also be found on our Library Information for Faculty research guide. 

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TEACH Act (DISTANCE LEARNING)

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act of 2002 deals primarily with the use of copyrighted materials in distance education or distance learning. It amended Chapter 1 of Title 17 US Code (Copyright Law) and grants exemption for the use of copyrighted materials in specific classroom settings under certain circumstances.

While not as flexible as Fair Use or exemptions for face-to-face classroom settings, it does support educators by allowing transmission of dramatic and audiovisual works as long as they are of "reasonable and limited portions." You may find that, in "many cases, you will need to rely on both [Fair Use and TEACH Act] exemptions to meet your educational goals" (via Ball State University). 

Peer to Peer Policy (P2P) & HEOA

Peer-to-peer file sharing is not illegal, but can be used for illegal distribution and downloading of copyrighted content. 

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The DMCA might restrict faculty's ability to make copies of material if circumvention/decryption is involved. Some screen-capturing technology may or may not use circumvention measures. 

Coursepacks

Coursepacks are complications or anthologies of various texts (or portions of texts) printed together in a single volume to supplement or support a textbook. They were often sold to the student to cover printing charges or copyright clearance. The use of reserves and electronic reserves has come to replace such practices.

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