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African American Studies: Copyright FAQ

FAQ

Disclaimer:  The information presented here is only general information.  Legal advice must be provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship specifically with reference to all the facts of the particular situation under consideration.  Such is not the case here, and accordingly, the information presented here must not be relied on as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney.  In regard to the fair use FAQs, please further note that fair use is an affirmative defense assessed on a case by case basis without bright line rules to avoid copyright infringement; therefore, the safest course is to always get permission from the copyright owner before using.  Please refer to FAQ #11 for additional information about fair use. 

  1. Who owns instructional material created by faculty?
  2. May I distribute copies of journal articles or a book chapter to my students?
  3. May I incorporate graphics or images (pictures, cartoons, tables, charts, graphs) into presentations, i.e. PowerPoint presentations?
  4. What about using Media Files (audio, film, podcasts) in my lecture or presentation?
  5. A faculty member from another institution has asked to use my materials for a course he is teaching.  May I share my materials with him?
  6. I wrote an article several years ago which was published in a professional journal which I want to update with new material.  Since I wrote the article may I freely use the material again?  May I also freely distribute the article to my students and colleagues who ask for reprints?
  7. I found information on the Internet so is it in the public domain?
  8. What are the guidelines for putting items on Print Reserve in the Library?
  9. If I am creating my own images, what do I need to consider? 
  10. May I send everyone a copy of a journal article for our journal club?
  11. What is Fair Use?  Does it protect me from using Copyrighted Material without permission?
  12. I want to use a patient's photograph as well as include them in a video I am preparing. Do I need to obtain authorization from the patient? What if the patient is not identifiable? Will I still need to obtain permission?
  13. Whom may I contact if I have a question regarding copyright or fair use?

 1.  Who owns instructional material created by faculty?

Generally the faculty member creating the material owns the copyright.  The University of Nebraska the Board of Regents Policy 4.4.1, paragraph 5, states faculty members own instructional materials they create.  This section is found on page 98 of the Board of Regents policy link from  and reads as follows:

Instructional Materials

"Instructional Materials" are other than Institutional Works, the primary use of which is for the instruction of students. Such works include textbooks, syllabi, lectures, lecture notes, and study guides. Instructional Materials developed by a faculty member in the process of delivering a course of instruction to students shall be the property of the faculty member. However, in the absence of a specific written agreement, and with the exception of books or other educational materials covered by Section 3.11 of the Bylaws of the Board of Regents, no royalty, rent or other consideration shall be paid to a faculty member when Instructional Materials are used at the University. Should the Author of Instructional Materials depart the employ of the University, he or she will provide the University with copies of the Instructional Materials (not including lecture notes) and shall grant the University a non-exclusive, royalty free license thereto, when it is determined by the University that such Instructional Materials are necessary to carry out the educational programs of the University. Recordings of lectures shall be the property of the faculty lecturer, unless the recording is an Institutional Work or a University Supported Work Involving use of substantial University resources.

Before a faculty member creates a multimedia work it is highly suggested that they fully understand who will own the work.  Multimedia is defined as the integration of multiple forms of media. This includes text, graphics, audio, video, etc. For example, a presentation involving audio and video clips would be considered a "multimedia presentation."

 2.  May I distribute copies of journal articles or a book chapter to my students?

In print:

  • A single, print copy of a journal article or a book chapter may be distributed to each student in a face to face class environment for one semester.  Subsequent copying for another class or another semester requires permission from the copyright holder.

Electronic Access including Blackboard:

  • A digitized copy of a single journal article or a single book chapter may be posted on a secure website such as Blackboard for one semester or a single class.  Access to the article is limited to students enrolled in the course.  Subsequent copying for another class or another semester requires permission from the copyright holder.   If the Library subscribes to the online journal you may provide a persistent link to the article.   Click on instructions on how to create a persistent link.
  • Sending a PDF of journal articles to students via email is discouraged.  It is too easy for students to forward the article to unauthorized users thereby compromising the license agreement with the publisher of the journal.

3.   May I incorporate graphics or images (pictures, cartoons, tables, charts, graphs) into presentations, i.e. PowerPoint presentations?

Images or graphics found in printed materials may be scanned or copied and placed into a presentation.  When the presentation is done in a face to face situation, you do not need to obtain publisher permission.  However, distributing copies of the image or graphic will require obtaining permission when any of the following apply:

  • Using multiple images from a single source
  • The image or graphic was found in a licensed resource such as an electronic library resource.  Review the “Terms of Use” found on the publishers website to determine if written permission is required.
  • Re-using the image or graphic for multiple semesters
  • Re-publishing in another publication
  • Placing the presentation onto an electronic storage device i.e. flash drive  or printing for re-distribution

4.  What about using Media Files (audio, film, podcasts) in my lecture or presentation?

You may use these resources in a face to face situation as long as the media pertains to the subject and is relevant to the course.

For distance education the restrictions are strict and include the following guidelines developed during the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) 

Motion Media

  • Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less, in the aggregate of a copyrighted motion media work may be reproduced or otherwise incorporated as part of a multimedia project.

Music, Lyrics, and Music Video

  • Up to 10%, but in no event more than 30 seconds, of the music and lyrics from an individual musical work (or in the aggregate of extracts from an individual work).  Any alterations to a musical work shall not change the basic melody or the fundamental character of the work.

Illustrations and Photographs

  • A photograph or illustration may be used in its entirety but no more than 5 images by an artist or photographer may be reproduced or otherwise incorporated as part of an educational multimedia project. When using photographs and illustrations from a published collective work, not more than 10% or 15 images, whichever is less, may be reproduced or otherwise incorporated as part of an educational multimedia project.
  • You must review the license agreement for material to be included in a multi-media program, i.e. video, audio, text.  Fair Use of these materials is not a right, but a defense.  Refer to Question 11 for information on Fair Use.

5.  A faculty member from another institution has asked to use my materials for a course he is teaching.  May I share my materials with him?

Lecture Notes are the personal property of the instructor giving him or her right to distribute, display or share materials freely with others.  Sharing them with others is the option of the instructor.  Materials that are copyrighted or belong to someone else are not yours to share without written permission.

A faculty member who wishes to ensure copyright protection of their lectures may attach a copyright notice to their class syllabus or any class handouts they have prepared provided their work is original.  Examples of two copyright notices follow:

"<Instructor’s Name and Year> My lectures are protected by state common law and federal copyright law. They are my own original expression and I may elect to record them at the same time that I deliver them in order to secure protection. Whereas you are authorized to take notes in class thereby creating a derivative work from my lecture, the authorization extends only to making one set of notes for your own personal use and no other use. You are not authorized to record my lectures, to provide your notes to anyone else or to make any commercial use of them without express prior permission from me."  Harper, Georgia (2001) “Ownership of Lectures” from The Copyright Crash Course Retrieved January 12, 2011.

“Copyright <Insert faculty members’ name here.> <Insert year here.> All federal and state copyrights in my lectures and course materials are reserved by me.  You are authorized to take notes in class for your own personal use and for no other purpose.  You are not authorized to record my lectures or to make any commercial use of them or to provide them to anyone else without my prior written permission.”

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (n.d.) Protection of a Faculty members’ Interest in Class Lectures Retrieved January 12, 2011.

6.  I wrote an article several years ago which was published in a professional journal which I want to update with new material.  Since I wrote the article may I freely use the material again?  May I also freely distribute the article to my students and colleagues who ask for reprints?

Review the publication agreement you signed with the journal publisher.  You may have signed away your copyright.  You are strongly encouraged to maintain some of your Intellectual Property rights by attaching an Author Addendum to a publisher’s agreement.  The University of Nebraska Medical Center Faculty Senate approved an Author Addendum for this purpose. 

If you want to provide copies of the articles to your students or colleagues you will need to follow the same procedures addressed in the question 2 of the FAQ.

7.  I found information on the Internet so is it in the public domain?

Works are in the "public domain" if they are not covered by Copyright protection, Copyright protection has expired, or Copyright protection has been forfeited.  Generally the only materials in the public domain are materials produced before 1923 and materials produced by the United States Federal Government.  Materials produced by state or city government are not in the public domain.

Since the Berne Convention in 1978 anything in a fixed format is protected by copyright.  Kenneth Crews defines fixed format  as  If you can see it, read it, watch it, or hear it – with or without the use of a computer, projector, or other machine, the work is likely eligible for copyright protection.”  Crews, Kenneth (2000) Copyright essentials for librarians and educators.  Chicago, American Library Association, 2000.

8.  What are the guidelines for putting items on Print Reserve in the Library?

The McGoogan Library of Medicine follows the guidelines of the Medical Library Association 

  1. The instructor will place a notice of copyright on the first page of materials copied from each work.  Suggested verbiage:

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproduction of copyrighted material.   The photocopy or reproduction is not to be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.   These materials are made available for the educational purposes of students enrolled at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  No further reproduction, transmission, or electronic distribution of this material is permitted.

  1. A book chapter or journal article can be copied and placed on print reserve.  Multiple copies may be made to meet the needs of the class.  A good rule of thumb is to provide one copy for every ten students in the class.
  2. A book can be placed on print reserve and checked out to students allowing them to make their own print copies. 
  3. The book placed on Reserve does not need to be owned by the Library.  A faculty member’s copy is acceptable.

9.  If I am creating my own images, what do I need to consider? 

Photos or recordings of humans and animals require permission.  Humans including UNMC patients, employees, students, or patients need to sign a media authorization form.  For more detailed information, see Policy No. 6030 Obtaining Informed Consent for UNMC Audio-Visual Media Production and Distribution Procedures. 

Contact the Director of Comparative Medicine for permission to videotape animals.

If you have created or designed original art, you are strongly advised to incorporate the copyright symbol © and your name into the figure or work.  Examples of original art include paintings, drawings, animations, cartoons, musical scores, dramatic scripts, screen plays and video and/or audio recordings of authorized presenters performing the score or script. These are types of work that may have commercial value and should be used only with your permission.  

10.  May I send everyone a copy of a journal article for our journal club?

Electronic Articles

If the article is from a library or personally “subscribed” journal look at the journal or publisher web site for conditions of use.  Typically you will find this under “Terms and Conditions”.  The publisher will state if an electronic copy of the article may be sent to club participants or if the article URL (persistent link) can be sent electronically  or posted on a password protected website i.e. Blackboard . 

For example, Wiley allows distribution of digital (PDF) copies for journal clubs.  However the American Medical Association only allows print copies to be shared and you may not store, reproduce, or share copies in digital form.  Each publisher has its own terms & conditions of use.

Print Articles

A photocopy of an article found in a print journal may be given to each member as these copies are considered “one copy per student” under Fair Use (refer to question 11) and becomes the personal property of the member.  Scanning a print article and sending it electronically to members is considered “making multiple copies” and is not allowed under fair use.

UNMC versus Non-UNMC Members

UNMC faculty, staff, and students are allowed access to all subscribed library materials, both print and electronic.   Non-UNMC journal club members may access library subscription materials when the member is on campus.  They may make photocopies of print materials and may print out, email, or save to a portable device, i.e. flash drive using the library’s public access computers.  Non-UNMC (unauthorized) users may not access electronic materials from off-campus.

If a journal club member is not from UNMC and does not subscribe personally to a journal, you may make a printed copy of an article to give them.  Some publishers (e.g. Wiley) allow authorized users (UNMC faculty, staff, or students) to transmit ONE digital copy of an article to a colleague for educational or scholarly use.  As mentioned above, each publisher has its own terms and conditions of use determined in each license.  Check with the Library if you have any questions.

11.  What is Fair Use?  Does it protect me from using Copyrighted Material without permission?

Fair Use is not a right, but a defense for using copyrighted material without permission.  The U.S. Copyright Office states “the distinction between fair use and copyright infringement is not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Also, acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission. The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. 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 “Fair Use Checklist” prepared by the Indiana University Copyright Management Center is a helpful tool in assessing if you are applying Fair Use principals appropriately.

The following are a few summarized statements adopted from Supreme Court cases on fair use.  They further support why there are no firm answers on fair use and why you cannot rely on specific percents or amount limits to avoid copyright infringement.

  • In Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music (92-1292), 510 U.S. 569 (1994)  the Court states:  [Fair use] requires case by case analysis rather than bright line rules. The statutory examples of permissible uses provide only general guidance. The four statutory factors are to be explored and weighed together in light of copyright's purpose of promoting science and the arts.
  • In Harper & Row, Publishers Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539 (1985) the Court uses the following cases to show even an insignificant amount of the work could be significant substantially to move that factor away from being a fair use:  Roy Export Co. Establishment v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 503 F.Supp. at 1145 (taking of 55 seconds out of 1 hour and 29-minute film deemed qualitatively substantial) and Meeropol v. Nizer, 560 F.2d 1061, 1071 (CA2 1977) (copyrighted letters constituted less than 1% of infringing work but were prominently featured). 
  • In addition, the Court quotes another a famous line on this issue of amount that also makes one think about how fair use is an affirmative defense rather than a right to use:  Judge Learned Hand cogently remarked, "no plagiarist can excuse the wrong by showing how much of his work he did not pirate." Sheldon v. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp., 81 F.2d 49, 56 (CA2), cert. denied, 298 U.S. 669 (1936).   

For more information about Fair Use and Copyright Law consult the McGoogan Library website on Copyright, Fair Use, and Plagiarism

12.  I want to use a patient’s photograph as well as include them in a video I am preparing.  Do I need to obtain authorization from the patient?  What if the patient is not identifiable?  Will I still need to obtain permission?

A signed Authorization to present or publish (in print or online) patient descriptions, photographs, videos, and pedigrees from all persons (parents or legal guardians for minors) who can be identified in such written descriptions, photographs, videos, or pedigrees is necessary.  Contact Public Relations at 402.559.4353 to obtain a Media Authorization Form for the patient to sign.

When discussing patients where only de-identified information is being used, a signed Authorization is not necessary.  However, you must adhere to UNMC Policy No. 6045, Privacy, Confidentiality, and Information Security which is provided below and included in the UNMC Statement of Understanding linked from the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) website. See the UNMC HIPAA Professional Health Care Education Procedures for further information.  

Privacy, Confidentiality, and Information Security Policy: University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) faculty, employees, staff, students, volunteers or contracted agency staff or independent contractors of UNMC, who have knowledge of confidential information, are obligated to keep it confidential and are held accountable for the appropriate use of information technology resources and networks.    

February, 2011