Guidelines for Copyright Compliance


To provide for a high-quality education for students of The University of Akron, which keeps pace with recent developments in individual fields of study, University faculty often find it useful to make available to its students copyrighted material other than text books. Faculty frequently find that an effective means to make such information available is to copy it and distribute it to students.

The Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. sec. 1 et seq., provides for the duplication of copyrighted materials by the copyright owner, with permission of the copyright owner, and when the copying is considered a "fair use" of the material.

To encourage legitimate copying by The University of Akron's faculty, staff, and students within the scope of the Copyright Act in the furtherance of their educational, research, creative, and scholarly pursuits, The University of Akron is publishing these copyright guidelines.

Policy Statement

It is the policy of The University of Akron, under University Rule 3359-02-05, that all members of the University community must comply with U.S. Copyright Law. This policy extends to ALL copyrighted, trademarked, and patented works, materials, processes, etc. This includes, but is not limited to, any and all works on paper, audio, video, CD and CD-ROM recordings, software, multi-media applications, and all other media which enjoy copyrighted protection.

In an effort to assist The University of Akron community with compliance, the following discussion guidelines are provided for use by members of the University community.

General Guidance

Copyrighted materials may be copied freely by the copyright owner of the materials. Faculty, staff, and students are permitted to use and duplicate copyrighted materials of other parties for educational and classroom uses, provided such activities fall within the "fair use" standard - 17 U.S.C. sec. 107. The fair use standard requires consideration and balancing by University faculty, staff, and students of the following factors to determine whether duplication or use by a party other than the copyright owner constitutes a fair use:

The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes. Not for profit educational uses, like duplication for class use, generally are more likely to be held to be fair uses than commercial uses.

The nature of the copyrighted work. Is the work published or unpublished? Fiction? Non-fiction? Usually, duplication of parts of published, factual, non-fiction works are more likely to be deemed fair uses than duplication of creative works.

Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. Proportionally smaller sections of works, which are duplicated, are more likely to be considered fair uses than duplications, which encompass most of the body of a work (e.g., copying a single page of Ulysses versus all of a short story).

The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. Usually considered the most important part of a fair use analysis, duplication that is not detrimental to and does not diminish the potential market for a work is more likely to be considered a fair use.

Duplication is also permitted if a copyright owner explicitly releases published materials from the strict observance of the law. Often publishers will allow "educational uses." Such exemptions MUST BE EXPLICITLY STATED WITHIN THE PUBLISHED MATERIALS. In such cases, duplication is permissible to the extent provided for by the copyright owner. When one desires to duplicate materials, one can also write to the publisher or copyright owner in order to receive explicit permission to duplicate copyrighted materials.

Works in the "public domain" are also permissibly duplicated, as the copyright protection either has been waived or has expired. For guidance on when works enter the public domain, see Laura Gasaway, "When Works Pass into the Public Domain."

Some activities are even less likely to constitute fair use and should almost NEVER be engaged in without the explicit permission of the copyright owner:

  • Duplication of materials for profit.
  • Duplication of materials from published textbooks.
  • Duplication of unpublished materials.
  • Duplication of computer software for multiple use.
  • Duplication of the same materials for classroom use term after term.

If any doubt exists concerning whether a work is copyrighted or whether an anticipated duplication constitutes "fair use," either contact the copyright owner or author for permission to duplicate the work, or do not duplicate the work. Faculty, staff, and students assume full responsibility for their violations of Federal Copyright Law and misapplication of the "fair use" standard.

Additional Guidance on Copyright: While not part of The University of Akron's policy on copyright, the following statements may provide guidance as you try to determine if an anticipated duplication of information is legal under U.S. Copyright Law.

"Safe-Harbor" Rule

In Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Services, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals applied the "Safe-Harbor Standard," created in 1976, and often referred to as "Classroom Guidelines." These guidelines are intended to provide an idea of the minimum standards for educational use that my usually be considered "fair use" when making multiple copies of a document for classroom use.

The copying meets the test of brevity (under 1000 words);

The copying meets the test of spontaneity under which "[t]he inspiration and decision to use the work and the moment of its use for maximum teaching effectiveness [must be] so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission;"

No more than nine instances of multiple copying take place during a term, and only a limited number of copies are made from the works of any one author or collective work;

Each copy contains a notice of copyright;

The copying does not substitute for the purchase of "books, publishers' reprints, or periodicals;" and

The student is not charged any more than the actual cost of copying.

The "Classroom Guidelines" also make it clear that unauthorized copying to create "anthologies, compilations, or collective works" is prohibited.

Multimedia and Software

Assume that ALL multimedia materials and software you encounter are protected by copyright law unless there is a specific statement attached to the materials stating that they are in the public domain.

When using multimedia materials in research and/or presentations, you must prominently acknowledge the source of ALL multimedia materials you use just as you would a traditional published source.


Everything published on this web site and the attached pages is intended for educational use only and should not be regarded or taken as legal advice that would be provided by an attorney to his or her client.

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