Copyright Policies

Copyright is confusing, even intimidating, and therefore often ignored. But ignorance of the law is not a defense and, as educators, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves.

Note that the copyright information provided in these pages or by Heartland staff members is not a substitute for legal counsel.

Copyright Policy for Heartland Community College

Adopted by the Board April 10, 2001
Revised December 2004

It is the intent of the Board of Trustees of Heartland Community College to adhere to the provisions of the U.S. copyright law (Title 17, United States Code, Section 101, et seq.). Therefore, the Board of Trustees directs the administration to develop and distribute to employees clear copyright guidelines that strongly encourage compliance with the copyright law, and inform employees of their rights and responsibilities under the law.

The Board of Trustees prohibits unauthorized duplication that violates copyright law, licenses or contractual agreements in any form. All College employees are expected to obey the United States copyright laws in their use of print and audio-visual materials and microcomputer software. Illegal copies or sharing of copyrighted software, movies, or music may not be made or used on equipment owned by the College. Employees who willfully disregard this Board policy do so at their own risk and assume all liability for their actions.

For questions about copyright issues contact Rachelle Stivers.

Copyright Overview

Copyright grants the copyright holder certain exclusive rights to reproduce copies, display the material publicly, etc. However, copyright law also grants exemptions to these rights, which means under certain conditions it is not necessary to get permission from the copyright holder to exercise one of their rights (e.g. to make and distribute copies). The five main exemptions are:

  • Public Domain
    Copyright does expire. Use the public domain copyright chart to determine if the work you want to use is in the public domain. And remember, since 1989, copyright is automatic. Even if the work does not have a copyright statement, it is still protected by copyright law.
  • Reproduction by libraries
    This is primarily used by libraries to facilitate interlibrary loans.
  • Right of first purchase
    This is an exemption from the copyright holder's right to distribution only. It allows libraries and video stores to loan out titles or an individual to give someone their legally acquired material. It does not allow copies of the material to be given away or sold.
  • Public display in the classroom
    This exemption allows videos to be shown during class as long as the viewing takes place face-to-face in the classroom of an educational institution and the video is lawfully obtained. That means you can show videos rented from the local video store, even when they say "For Home Use Only" (as long as you meet the above qualifications). Note: this does not cover distance or online classrooms. See Fair Use.
  • Fair Use
    This exemption is very useful for educational institutions. It is also very subjective and requires the honest application of the Four Fair Use Factors.

If your use of the material does not qualify for any of these exemptions, you will need to get permission from the copyright holder. Contact Rachelle Stivers for permission processes.

Public Domain Copyright Chart
Public Domain for Published Works
Time of publication Conditions Public Domain status
Before 1923 None In public domain
Between 1923 and 1928 Published with a copyright notice In public domain
Between 1978 and March 1, 1989 Published without a notice but with subsequent registration 10 years after the death of the author, or if work of corporate authorship, the shorter of 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation
Between 1923 and 1963 Published with notice and copyright was renewed In public domain
Between 1923 and 1963 Published with notice and copyright was renewed 65 years after publication date
Between 1964 and March 1, 1989 Published with no notice 70 years after the death of author, or if work of corporate authorship, the shorter of 95 years of publication or 120 years from creation
After March 1, 1989 None 70 years after the death of author, or if work of corporate authorship, the shorter of 95 years of publication or 120 years from creation

From Russell, Carrie. Complete Copyright: An Everyday Guide for Librarians. Chicago, American Library Association, 2004.

Fair Use Policy

To determine if your use of copyrighted material can be considered a Fair Use, apply the Four Fair Use Factors:

  1. Purpose and character of use
  2. Nature of copyright work
  3. Amount and substantiality
  4. Effect of use on the market

Examine how these factors fall into the Four Factors Continuum* (available in PDF format, 117 KB, 2 page) remembering the following:

  • Each factor must be considered individually as well as taken together. No one factor trumps the others. For example, not all educational uses are necessarily fair uses.
  • Fair Use is a continuum, not a checklist. You must determine if your use leans more toward fair use or more toward "unfair" use.
  • Fair Use Factors and "Fair Use Guidelines" are not the same thing. The Factors used here are specifically in the copyright law. The "Guidelines" are not law and the College does not use them.
  • In the Good Faith Fair Use provision, if you are sued for an infringement and a court determines you did infringe copyright, as long as you "reasonably believed and had reasonable grounds for believing" that your use was fair, you are not liable for statutory damages (which run from $750 to $30,000 for each infringement). However, you still could be liable for actual damages such as lost profits, court costs, and attorney fees.

Proceed to the Four Factors Continuum* (available in PDF format, 117 KB, 2 page)

*Note: You must download and install Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™ in order to view and print the Four Factors Continuum.

Example of Fair Use 1

An instructor wants to use one chapter from a book about Toni Morrison that was published in 1988. Since he uses only one chapter, he doesn't want to make students purchase the whole book. He makes photocopies from the book he bought from a used book store and distributes them in class. Is this copyright infringement or fair use?

Purpose and character of use: Tends toward fair use

  • The use is not for profit, educational and for teaching. Also, access is restricted to students enrolled in the class (even multiple sections of a class could be considered "restricted").
  • Even better: include a complete citation with the copy.

Nature of the copyright work: Tends toward fair use

  • Chapter is factual rather than creative. If it was a short story by Morrison it would tend toward "unfair."
  • Even better: is the work important to stated educational objectives? There is a stronger argument for fair use if the class is American Literature than if it is Industrial Mechanical Systems.

Amount and substantiality: Tends toward fair use

  • It is just one chapter from the book so it is a small part of the work.

Effect of use on market: Tends toward fair use

  • The instructor owns a lawfully acquired copy. The fact that the book was purchased from a used book store has no bearing. In fact, used book stores depend on another copyright exemption, Right of First Purchase. Relatively few copies were made; however, repeated use can start to move the use to "unfair."

Overall Ruling: Fair Use

  • Alternatives:
    • Placing one photocopy on eReserve at the Library would reduce the number of copies made (Factor 4).
    • The instructor could place his book (or the Library's, if the title is in the collection) on reserve. Then Right of First Purchase is being exercised and there is no need to do a Fair Use Analysis.
Example of Fair Use 2

A communications instructor wants to scan several articles from The Pantagraph to which she subscribes, and post them on Blackboard. Is this copyright infringement or fair use?

Purpose and character of use: Tends toward fair use

  • The use is not for profit, educational, and used for teaching. Also, access is restricted by password protection in Blackboard to students enrolled in the class.
  • Even better: include a complete citation and copyright warning for each article.

Nature of the copyright work: Tends toward fair use

  • Newspaper articles tend to be factual rather than creative.
  • Even better: Are the articles important to stated educational objectives?

Amount and substantiality: Probably fair use

  • It is arguable whether the articles constitute a "large part" because it is the whole article or whether they constitute a "small part" because each one is only part of the larger daily newspaper.
  • The instructor will also need to consider if all of the articles and the articles in their entirety are appropriate for the educational objectives. Would fewer articles work? Would parts of the articles work?

Effect of use on market: Probably fair use

  • Few copies are made (just one in fact), distribution is limited, and the articles were lawfully acquired (instructor's subscription). However, there is some market effect since The Pantagraph charges to view back issues online.

Overall Ruling: Probably Fair Use, but should explore other option

  • Alternative:
    • From Blackboard, link to the articles in the Library's online subscription database to The Pantagraph.

Contact Us

HCC Library
Academic Support Center
1500 W Raab Road
Normal, IL 61761
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Phone: 309 268-8292
Fax: 309 268-7989
Email: Ask A Librarian