| Architecture Studies Library
Why do students need to learn about copyright? In a word, the web. The web has changed the way we do things, including for instance personal web pages and course web pages. In the olden days, a student would include an image in a paper, credit the source of the image, and the legal ground was solid. Now, by putting it on the web in a course page, it is, in a sense, published. This complicates the legal landscape. In many cases, definitions set forth are up for interpretation and encourage discussion. It must be noted that the copyright landscape is changing every year as more people interpret laws and different points of view are considered. So let's start with explaining, just a bit, what copyright is, and how it applies to student work.
Copyright is the legal provision for certain rights and restrictions regarding the use and reproduction of materials. Copyright law is an area of legal expertise. The points made below should not be considered legal advice. They are simply an effort to draw out some relevant elements concerning copyright that students may find helpful. Citing is an ethical practice. It credits the source of words or ideas, allows the reader to go back to the original material, and gives the writer credibility. If you did not formulate the image, words or idea yourself, then cite it
The purpose of copyright law is said to be the encouragement of artistic and scholarly production by protecting the rights of the originator [or the publisher] to benefit financially now or in the future, for the period the copyright lasts. It also grants the originator [or the publisher] control over any future uses of the material.
According to Section 102 of Copyright Law:
Copyright protects original authorship fixed in tangible form (17 USC sec. 102(a)). Under U.S. law, copyright protection subsists from the time the work is fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which it can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Copyright registration is not mandatory, although it has benefits.
This information applies also to works accessed via network (websites, homepages, and FTP sites) and files and documents transmitted and/or downloaded via network.
For works transmitted online, the copyrightable authorship may consist of text, artwork, music, audiovisual material (including any sounds), sound recordings, etc. Copyright does not protect ideas, procedures, systems, or methods of operation (17 USC sec. 102(b)).
Public domain . Not everything is under copyright. All materials
published by the federal government are NOT under copyright. For other
works, it depends on if the work was published and where, and when
it was created. Standard period now for copyright is for the life of the
creator plus 70 years, but this may be extended. Once a work is no longer covered by copyright,
it is said to be in the public domain. Public Domain basically means you can use the work without the permission of the creator and without paying a fee for the use.
Self test question 1. If a work is in the Public Domain, it means: (Check all that apply)
The following flowchart serves as a reference tool and includes more exceptions and alternate rules that will aid in answering self question 2-4 (below). Read the chart horizontally, and select the appropriate vertical column (e.g.Is it a Government Work? Or created before 1977? Or after 1978?), and work your way down.
Questions 2-4 ask if a work is in the public domain or copyright protected:
Self test question 2.. A published work in 1920?
Self test question 3. An unpublished work created in 1920 by an author that died in 1955?
Self test question 4. A published work by NASA in 1980?
Fair use. Although the law seeks to protect the interests of the author and/or publisher it also purports to balance that protection with provisions allowing what is called �fair use,� recognizing that free exchange of ideas is necessary to forward research and teaching.
“Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work.
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;All 4 of these factors must be considered together. For instance if the use was educational, but a big profit was to be made, the use would probably not be considered “fair.”
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”
According to Section 107 of Copyright Law:
The distinction between ‘fair use’ and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.
Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself; it does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work.
The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. The Copyright Office cannot give this permission.
When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of “fair use” would clearly apply to the situation. The Copyright Office can neither determine if a certain use may be considered ‘fair’ nor advise on possible copyright violations. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to consult an attorney.
Examples of Copyright Limitation Statements
Even assuming you wish to use an image for educational purposes � for
example your class paper � you are not necessarily granted free use.
One approach to determining if it is ok to use an image is to look
to the source for guidance. Many web sites include additional copyright
information that provides guidance on whether you can freely use their
How might this statement be interpreted? There seems to be no problem if you are going to use it for private study. However to reproduce the image on a public web page you must get permission, even though it is not for commercial use.
Self-test question 5 : Would it be acceptable to use University of Denver materials without written permission, on a web site accessible only to one specific class? [There is not a right or wrong answer here. The answer would depend on your definition of private, and how well you can defend that definition.]
Another example, from the University of California Berkeley 's Architecture Slide Library http://www.mip.berkeley.edu/query_forms/spiro_help/spirocopyright.html [accessed 12/20/05] reads a bit differently, although there are many similarities. It is more specific than the University of Denver statement, more limiting and could be interpreted as circumventing fair use provisions of the copyright law.
Self-test question 6: According to the guidelines of the University of California, is it acceptable to you to post an image to a private class-related website with controlled access?
A “controlled access” site or “password protected” site limits access and therefore lays an argument that the use is fair, only for the purpose of the limited number allowed access. For example, Dr. White’s website is password protected. Access is limited to the students in the class. This can be interpreted as fair use for educational purposes. However, educational use also can be compared to that of displaying a project in the hallway for a studio presentation. If this was on a public site of the world wide web, everybody in the world has a chance to see the information contained and it can be argued that this is no longer just a class project, or for private, educational use. Depending on interpretations and guidelines set forth, these images and data may or may not be considered fair use.
How do you define “private”? The University of Denver distinguishes between public and private use. The University of California distinguishes between educational and commercial use, but also between print student papers and course web pages. Denver and UCB “see” permissible in two different ways. The copyright laws, and fair use, are subject to interpretation! Should something not be considered fair use just because the University of California forbids students to post information to a course restricted website?
With print materials there is no additional guidance concerning restrictions. By examining copyright statements on web sites, however, you start to develop a sense of what is permissible. If the work is in the public domain, then it can be freely used [see the chart above]. If it is not in the public domain, then use is subject to the rights and restrictions of the copyright law.
1. Use of an image in a class paper is fairly simple. It is allowed as
a fair educational use.
Still have Copyright specific questions? http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/
For further reading on copyright, see the Copyright Crash Course materials at the University of Texas . http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/IntellectualProperty/cprtindx.htm#top
Or �the Digital Difference: Responsible Conduct of Research in a Networked
World by Richard Fyffe and Scott Walter (University of Kansas Graduate
School , 2005). http://hdl.handle.net/1808/230 (.pdf file, 65 pages, select "view/open") (accessed