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Copyright Guide: Copyright Topics/Glossary

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.

This page has organized recommended research materials and resources over specific copyright-related topics into boxes, sorted alphabetically. Some content overlaps. 

Search Copyright Cases - 



See also "Transformative Uses" box


See "DMCA"

Archiving & Copyright

See "Digitization & Archiving"


The Copyright Claims Board started accepting claims in June 16 2022. 

See also "Copyright Claims Board." 


See "Copyright Claims Board." 

Computer-generated art/works

Controlled Digital Lending (CDL)


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.

⚠ COVID-19/Coronavirus & Copyright Concerns ⚠

Recommended Articles: 

Recommended Videos:

Creative Commons (CC) Licenses

See also "Licensing," "Open Access," and "Open Educational Resources" 

DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

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

Paula Settoon, the Dean of Libraries and Knowledge Management, is the college's DMCA Designated Agent. Please see these terms of service for reporting copyright violations. 

Derivative Works

When a copyright owner authorizes a third party to prepare a derivative work, the owner of the underlying work retains a copyright in that derivative work with respect to all of the elements that the derivative creator drew from the underlying work and employed in the derivative work. [...] By contrast, the creator of the derivative work has a copyright only as to those original aspects of the work that the derivative creator contributed, and only to the extent the derivative creator's contributions are "more than trivial." [...] Moreover, a copyright in a derivative work "must not in any way affect the scope of any copyright protection in that preexisting material." [...] Logically, therefore, if a third party copies a derivative work without authorization, it infringes the original copyright owner's copyright in the underlying work to the extent the unauthorized copy of the derivative work also copies the underlying work.[...] From US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. 



See "Reserves & E-Reserves"


Guidelines are not law. 

Have you ever heard someone say "it's fine to scan 10% of a work" or "one chapter is fine to copy"? These generalizations are guidelines. Guidelines are often created by organizations, institutions, or committees with relevant copyright backgrounds. However, their authority can still be questioned in court. A chapter might or might not be seen as a Fair Use in a court. Conversely, there are some cases where the entire work was copied and it was ruled a Fair Use. So, only a court can decide what is or is not a Fair Use. Ultimately, guidelines attempt to be a mitigator of risk (risk of going to court), but the four factors of fair use do that just fine on their own. 

An example of guidelines is the CONTU Guidelines for interlibrary loan (see "CONTU Guidelines"). 

See also "Fair Use." 

Interlibrary Loan

See also "CDL" and "CONTU Guidelines for ILL." 

Interlibrary loan was codified in the 1976 ACT: 17. U.S.C. § 108 — Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives.


See "Libraries" 

Licensing / Licenses

Licenses, or permissions, are agreements for a use of copyrighted material. They can be verbal or written, but it is safer to get permissions in writing. 

You do not need permission from a copyright holder for a fair use. A license can help you avoid having to determine what is a fair use or from being sued if your use does not fall within fair use, because you are being granted special privileges within the license. However, if you have agreed to a license in order to access or use material, you are bound by the terms of that license. Breaking a license is not necessarily the same as infringing a copyright. 

See also "Open Access" and "Open Educational Resources" and "Creative Commons." 


See "Embedding" 

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 what some Creative Commons licenses or other OER material allows. 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 material legally. 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 a video online to 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


See also "Transformative Uses" and "Satire" 

The germ of parody lies in the definition of the Greek parodeia, quoted in Judge Nelson's Court of Appeals dissent, as "a song sung alongside another." [...] Modern dictionaries accordingly describe a parody as a "literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule,"[...] or as a "composition in prose or verse in which the characteristic turns of thought and phrase in an author or class of authors are imitated in such a way as to make them appear ridiculous."[13] For the purposes of copyright law, the nub of the definitions, and the heart of any parodist's claim to quote from existing material, is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author's works. [...] If, on the contrary, the commentary has no critical bearing on the substance or style of the original composition, which the alleged infringer merely uses to get attention or to avoid the drudgery in working up something fresh, the claim to fairness in borrowing from another's work diminishes accordingly (if it does not vanish), and other factors, like the extent of its commerciality, loom larger.[14] Parody needs to mimic [...] an original to make its point, and so has some claim to use the creation of its victim's (or collective victims') imagination, whereas satire can stand on its own two feet and so requires justification for the very act of borrowing.[15] [...]

from Supreme Court opinion. 

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. 

Reserves & E-Reserves

Faculty or departments may place reserve textbooks or other materials in the library for student use. Please contact the campus location where you would like the physical reserves to be housed. More information about the reserves process can also be found on our Library Information for Faculty research guide, under the Services tab

E-reserves, or electronic reserves, is content that comes from copyrighted material usually, and is meant to be other required or supplemental reading beyond a textbook. It is typically a copy from a portion of a work or a copy of the entire work (if fair use, permission, or licensing applies) that is uploaded to an online course or through an online system where only specific enrolled students have access to that material. It does not necessarily include linking to content found freely accessible online, such as news articles, though many still call that content "e-reserves" for continuity for students. If you need help navigating whether or not you need a license or permission for scanned material (ie "copies") to be posted, please contact the Access Services Office.

The following are a few guidelines for the library's involvement with electronic course reserves

  • We can help faculty find and evaluate electronic resources, such Open Educational Resources and articles from our databases. While we welcome resource suggestions, we cannot commit to purchasing textbooks or other required reading 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 if necessary for reserves material. We are happy to assist with the process, however any ultimate fair use assessment and use decision will remain with the faculty/poster. Library employees cannot commit to creating scans for faculty. 
  • While we do help students find resources, we will refer all student issues 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.

Rights Reversion

See also "Termination."


See also "Transformative Uses" and "Parody" 

Showing videos in a classroom

Sovereign immunity

Sovereign immunity is a doctrine that makes states and state entities immune from lawsuits under federal law in some cases. Congress sought to eliminate sovereign immunity in the copyright context in a 1990 federal law, but a recent decision by the Supreme Court has overturned the law.  



"[The TEACH Act] is almost completely ineffective in practice. Its limitations are so severe that almost no distance learning venture relies on it."  (via William Fisher, CopyrightX Lecture Transcripts). 

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 exceptions [Fair Use and TEACH Act]--or even entirely on fair use--to meet your educational goals." (via Ball State University). 

The TEACH Act requires used material contain a copyright notice, but doesn't dictate specific language required. If no notice is present on the material itself, the suggested wording below, pasted in the site, can suffice: 

The copyrighted materials in this course used under the TEACH Act are only for the use of students enrolled in this course.

It is far more likely that Fair Use will allow your use of material and be more flexible while doing so. See "Fair Use.

Teacher Exception

See "Work for Hire"

Transformative Uses


See "Showing Videos in a Classroom."

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