Intellectual Property includes four areas: copyright, patent, trade mark, and trade secret. This document highlights the first area, copyright. More specifically, this resource focuses on the academic environment, particularly for librarians, educators, and students. This document provides basic information on the concepts of copyright law, avoiding infringement, seeking legal clearance, and applying the appropriate laws for a variety of media.
- Copyright is a privilege and a protection, which the federal government affords authors and artists, as an incentive to product creative works and expressions. Libraries and nonprofit educational institutions are granted certain exemptions to copyright laws.
- American copyright laws are inherited from English copyright laws.
- The American Bar Association web site provides detailed information for both the creators and the information borrowers. Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, which offers extensive commentaries on copyright and other intellectual property issues. A wiki is a new and innovative technology, which displays pertinent and new intellectual property changes. Also, the wiki may be updated from the browser window; therefore, changes and news items are available for fast publication on the Web.
- The principle of fair use does not have a set definition, but there are established guidelines to direct users or borrowers on what and how much of a copyrighted work may be borrowed. In general, the statute does "state the minimum and the not the maximum standards..." (Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 102(2001)).
- Colleges, major universities, and educational organizations offer intellectual property information on the Internet. The websites contain well-documented and comprehensive documents for their respective learning communities on fair use guidelines. Listed below are fair use guidelines from several major university websites.
- Other higher learning institutions have developed practical tutorials on fair use; the tutorials are interactive, user-friendly, and cover a number of media and issues. The tutorial websites are:
Librarians are presented daily with copyright dilemmas. Copyright laws are evolving and new meanings and applications are continuously surfacing. Unfortunately, new legislation may affect not only new technological inventions, as new digital references, databases, and archival issues, but older and established services, as well.
- Laura N. Gasaway defines a public domain work as a creative work that is not protected by copyright, which may be freely used by everyone. The reasons that the work is not protected include: (1) the term of copyright for the work has expired; (2) the author failed to satisfy statutory formalities to perfect the copyright; or (3) the work is a U.S. Government document.
- Copyrights are limited in their duration, but copyrights may be extended. The Cornell University web site features a copyright duration chart, which outlines when works fall in to the public domain.
- The term, orphan work, describes any work where the legal copyright holder can not be located. A brochure from the Duke University Law School highlights some of problems that potential borrowers of an orphan work may encounter.
- With the growing number of online classes, it became apparent that educators who taught online were accorded separate and less favorable fair use guidelines than face-to-face educators. The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002 was enacted to ease the copyright standards for online classes. Florida State University supplies an explanation and guidelines in a web site called The TEACH Act of 2002: How the Law Affects Online Instruction. A comprehensive TEACH Act tutorial is provided by the North Carolina State University.
- The University of Indiana includes a TEACH ACT Checklist as a tool for online educators to measure compliance when using a variety digital materials in an online course.
The United States government and higher education institutions have compiled lists of Frequently Asked Questions(FQA). FAQ indexes provide easy access to questions and answers about common copyright issues.
Obtaining copyright clearance can be confusing and time consuming. The University of Texas has compiled Getting Permission, which lists websites that specialize in securing permissions for national and foreign works, as well as image archives, freelance authors, music performances, play right, new archives, movies, and more. Also, The Copyright Clearance Center is a commercial web site, which offers services to academic institutions to ensure their compliance in copyright matters.
Students are reminded that plagiarism is a serious infringement. Plagiarism, according to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, is " the act of passing of ideas and words of another as one's own, without crediting the source." When a student uses the words or ideas of another in a paper or presentation, the student is required to cite the original work. Also, the student is required to acknowledge all who have contributed significantly to the paper or course assignment.