College Copyright Compliance Policy

Purpose of Copyright Compliance Policy
What is Copyright?
What is Protected by Copyright?
Fair Use
Types of Use
Non-Text Based Copyright Guidelines
How to Obtain Copyright Permission
Reporting Suspected Infringements
Review and Interpretation of Policy

Purpose of Copyright Compliance Policy

The purpose of the Tompkins Cortland Community College Copyright Compliance Policy: Library and Classroom, is to provide a summary of U.S. copyright law as it relates to the use of text-based copyright-protected works in the library and classrooms at Tompkins Cortland, and to provide guidelines and procedures for obtaining copyright permission to use these works. U.S. copyright law contains many gray areas, and the goal of this policy is to provide the College's administrators, faculty, librarians, students, employees, and others with a standard approach for addressing complex copyright issues. This policy covers classroom issues such as photocopying, online and distance education, and coursepacks. It also covers library uses for print and electronic reserves, ILL and document delivery. Other Tompkins Cortland copyright and intellectual property policies may complement this policy by providing guidance on copyright issues beyond text-based materials used in the classroom and library.

This policy provides practical advice and procedures on copyright-related matters; however, it is not a substitute for legal advice, and proper legal advice should be obtained when necessary. Copyright Officer Gregg Kiehl may be able to assist you with any questions you may have (607-844-8222 x4354).

What is Copyright?

Copyright is an area of law that provides creators and distributors of creative works with an incentive to share their works by granting them the right to be compensated when others use those works in certain ways. Specific rights are granted to the creators of creative works in the U.S. Copyright Act (Title 17, U.S. Code). If you are not a copyright holder for a particular work, as determined by the law, you must ordinarily obtain copyright permission prior to reusing or reproducing that work. However, there are some specific exceptions in the Copyright Act for certain academic uses, and permission is never required for certain other actions, such as reading or borrowing original literary works or photographs from a library collection.

What is Protected by Copyright?

The rights granted by the Copyright Act are intended to benefit "authors" of "original works of authorship", including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural and audiovisual creations. This means that virtually any creative work that you may come across — including books, magazines, journals, newsletters, maps, charts, photographs, graphic materials, and other printed materials; unpublished materials, such as analysts' and consultants' reports; and non-print materials, including electronic content, computer programs and other software, sound recordings, motion pictures, video files, sculptures, and other artistic works — is almost certainly protected by copyright. Among the exclusive rights granted to those "authors" are the rights to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform and publicly display their works.

These rights provide copyright holders control over the use of their creations and an ability to benefit, monetarily and otherwise, from the use of their works. Copyright also protects the right to "make a derivative work," such as a movie from a book; the right to include a work in a collective work, such as publishing an article in a book or journal; and the rights of attribution and integrity for "authors" of certain works of visual art. Copyright law does not protect ideas, data or facts.

In the U.S., the general rule of copyright duration for a work created on or after January 1, 1978 is the author's life plus 70 years after the author's death. This is often referred to as "life-plus-70". Works created by companies or other types of organizations generally have a copyright term of 95 years. For more information on copyright duration, visit the United States' Copyright Office page on Copyright Law of the United States and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code.

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Fair Use

A provision for fair use is found in the Copyright Law Section 107. Under the fair use provision, a reproduction of someone else's copyright-protected work is likely to be considered fair if it is used for one of the following purposes: criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research. If the reproduction is for one of these purposes, a determination as to whether the reproduction is fair use must be made based upon four factors:

  1. 1. The purpose and character of use (principally, whether for commercial or nonprofit educational use);
  1. 2. The nature of the copyright-protected work;
  1. 3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used; and
  1. 4. The effect of the use being evaluated upon the potential market for or value of the copyright-protected work.

Fair use is an ambiguous concept and the law does not state exactly what uses of a copyrighted work will be considered fair uses under the law and may therefore be used without obtaining permission. As such, individuals who are not lawyers may often need to be interpreters of the law in everyday circumstances, and answers as to how much reproduction may be considered fair use often remain unclear. The bottom line is that fair use requires a very circumstance specific analysis as to whether a particular use or reuse of a work may indeed be considered fair use.

To avoid confusion and minimize the risk of copyright infringement, Tompkins Cortland interprets the following situations as fair use:

  • Quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work for illustration or clarification of the author's observations.
  • Reproduction of material for classroom use where the reproduction is unexpected and spontaneous; for example, where an article in the morning's paper is directly relevant to that day's class topic. This would generally cover one time use in only one semester.
  • Use in a parody of short portions of the work itself.
  • A summary of an address or article, which may include quotations of short passages of the copyright-protected work.

If your use does not meet the above criteria and the work is protected by copyright, you may need to obtain permission to use the work from the copyright holder or its agent. The College's Library has tools, resources, and procedures in place that can greatly simplify this process.

Types of Use

Classroom Handouts

Based on Tompkins Cortland's fair use analysis, classroom handouts fall into two categories; one that requires permission and one that does not. If the handout is a new work for which you could not reasonably be expected to obtain permission in a timely manner and the decision to use the work was spontaneous, you may use that work without obtaining permission. However, if the handout is planned in advance, repeated from semester to semester, or involves works that have existed long enough that one could reasonably be expected to obtain copyright permission in advance, you must obtain copyright permission to use the work.


Articles, chapters and other individual works in any print or electronic coursepack may require copyright permission. Copyright permission for coursepack material is usually granted by the academic period. To reuse a coursepack in subsequent academic periods (e.g.: semester, quarter, trimester, etc.), you may need to obtain permission again. Many copyright holders provide time-sensitive permission because their own rights may be time-sensitive and could be transferred to different copyright holders at any time. When compiling coursepacks that contain material outside the scope of fair use guidelines it is important to obtain permission prior to the duplication and distribution of the material. Deferring responsibility for copyright permission will not provide you protection against a claim of copyright infringement.


If the College's library owns a copy of a publication, the library may place that copy on reserve without obtaining copyright permission. If the library wishes to reproduce additional copies of a work and place them on reserve for students to review, in either paper or electronic format, the library must obtain copyright permission.

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Photocopying In The Library

It is permissible to photocopy copyright-protected works in the College's library without obtaining permission from the copyright owner, under the following circumstances:

  • Library user requests for articles and short excerpts. At the request of a library user or another library on behalf of a library user, the Tompkins Cortland library may make one reproduction of an article from a periodical or a small part of any other work. The reproduction must become the property of the library user, and the library must have no reason to believe that the reproduction will be used for purposes other than private study, scholarship and research. As recommended by Section 108 of the Copyright Act, the library must display the register's notice at the place library users make their reproduction requests to the library.
  • Archival reproductions of unpublished works. Up to three reproductions of any unpublished work may be made for preservation or security or for deposit for research use in another library or archive. This may be a photocopy or digital reproduction. If it is a digital reproduction, the reproduction may not be made available to the public outside the library or archive premises. Prior to receiving any of the three reproductions permitted under this provision from another library or archive, the Tompkins Cortland library or archive must make a reasonable effort to purchase a new replacement at a fair price. The reproducing library or archive must also own the work in its collection.
  • Replacement of lost, damaged or obsolete copies. The Tompkins Cortland library may make up to three reproductions, including digital reproductions, of a published work that is lost, stolen, damaged, deteriorating or stored in an obsolete format. Any digital reproductions must be kept within the confines of the library (that is, available on its computer but not placed on a public network.) These materials may also be made available to the College's faculty for classroom use.
  • Library user requests for entire works. One reproduction of an entire book or periodical may be made by your library at a library user's request, or by another library on behalf of a library user upon certain conditions being met. These conditions include the library determining after reasonable investigation that an authorized reproduction cannot be obtained at a reasonable price. Once made, the reproduction must become the property of the library user. The library must have no reason to believe that the reproduction will be used by the user for purposes other than private study, scholarship and research, and the library must display the register's notice at the place library users make their reproduction requests to the library.

Photocopying for Students

The Tompkins Cortland library may make reproductions for library users (students, faculty, etc.), provided the following criteria are met:

  • The library makes one reproduction of an article from a periodical or a small part of any other work.
  • The reproduction becomes the property of the library user.
  • The library has no reason to believe that the reproduction will be used for purposes other than private study, scholarship and research.
  • The library displays the register's notice at the place library users make their reproduction requests to the library.

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Photocopying by Students

Photocopying by students is subject to a fair use analysis as well. A single photocopy of a portion of a copyright-protected work, such as a copy of an article from a scientific journal or a chapter from a textbook made for research, may be made without permission. Photocopying all the assignments from a book recommended for purchase by the instructor, making multiple copies of articles or book chapters for distribution to classmates, or copying material from consumable workbooks, all require permission.

Interlibrary Loan

The Tompkins Cortland library may participate in interlibrary loans without obtaining permission provided that the "aggregate quantities" of articles or items received by the patron do not substitute for a periodical subscription or purchase of a work. The College follows the CONTU guidelines for defining "aggregate quantities." The CONTU guidelines state that requesting and receiving more than five articles from a single periodical within a calendar year or a total of six or more copies of articles published within five years prior to the date of request would be too many under CONTU. If the articles or items being copied have been obtained through a digital license, you must check the license to see under what terms and conditions, if any, interlibrary loan is permitted.

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Distance Education and Course Management Systems

In 2002, the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act became law and expanded the latitude universities, including Tompkins Cortland, have for the performance and display of copyright-protected materials in a distance education environment, including through the use of Course Management Systems (CMS). The copyright requirements for TEACH and CMS postings are similar to those of classroom handouts, but extend the traditional rules for those handouts to the digital transmission of materials to distance education students. If the use is spontaneous and will not be repeated, copyright permission is not required; however, the content may not remain posted for extended periods of time. If the use is planned, repeated or involves works that have existed long enough that one could reasonably expect to receive a response to a request for copyright permission, you must obtain copyright permission.

Copyright and Foreign Works

The U.S. is a member of the leading international copyright treaty, the Berne Convention. As such, when Tompkins Cortland uses a copyright-protected work from another country, the protections provided to works by U.S. copyright law automatically apply to the use of that work as well (assuming the use takes place in the U.S.).

Non-Text Based Copyright Guidelines for Library, Distance Education and Classroom Use

This policy is a companion piece to the "Tompkins-Cortland Community College Copyright Compliance Policy: Library and Classroom" document and serves as a guideline for the responsible use of non-text based copyrighted materials available through the Information Acquisitions, Course, and Media reserves services at the College. The Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17 of the United States Code), as amended through 2002, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, and the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH) of 2002 are the main legal texts that govern the interpretation and implementation of the following library services.

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Audio/Video Materials

  • Subscription/Rental services: The Tompkins Cortland Library may use audio/video subscription and rental services as a way of providing scholarly materials to its faculty and students. Materials obtained through these resources are limited to faculty and student use only, where the request is unexpected, spontaneous, and of a scholarly nature; for example, where a student requests a video that is directly relevant to his/her assignment. This would generally cover one time use in only one semester.
  • Video-on-demand: The Tompkins Cortland Library offers video-on-demand through several service providers. Viewing is currently limited to the 2nd floor study rooms in the Library/Baker Commons. The use of this service is restricted to faculty and students and is intended for scholarly use only.
  • Information Acquisitions: In cases where repeated requests are made for the same item or regular classroom usage is expected, the Tompkins Cortland Library will seek to purchase the item and add it to the media reserves collection.
  • Current technological standards: In an effort to keep pace with current technological platforms and standards the College's Library will seek to upgrade actively used A/V reserve materials, upon request and on a case-by-case basis, using the following methods and resources:
  • Purchase
  • Licensing
  • Duplication
  • Alternative content

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Distance Education:

Teach Act: The TEACH Act facilitates and enables the performance and display of text and non-text based copyrighted materials for distance education by accredited, non-profit educational institutions (and some government entities) that meet the TEACH Act's qualifying requirements. Its primary purpose is to balance the needs of distance learners and educators with the rights of copyright holders. Tompkins Cortland applies terms and conditions of TEACH Act in support of its distance education program that includes the participation of any enrolled student in an online or hybrid learning environment, on or off campus. In order for the use of copyrighted materials in distance education to qualify for the TEACH Act exemptions, the following criteria must be met:

  • The institution must be an accredited, non-profit educational institution.
  • The use must be part of mediated instructional activities.
  • The use must be limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific class.
  • The use must either be for 'live' or asynchronous class sessions.
  • The use must not include the transmission of textbook materials, materials "typically purchased or acquired by students," or works developed specifically for online uses.
  • Only "reasonable and limited portions," such as might be performed or displayed during a typical live classroom session, may be used.
  • The institution must have developed and publicized its copyright policies, specifically informing students that course content may be covered by copyright, and include a notice of copyright on the online materials.
  • The institution must implement some technological measures to ensure compliance with these policies, beyond merely assigning a password. Ensuring compliance through technological means may include user and location authentication through Internet Protocol (IP) checking, content timeouts, print-disabling, cut and paste disabling, etc.

Tompkins Cortland Library, in cooperation with Learning Technology Services, is here to assist faculty in interpreting TEACH Act requirements and to provide additional resources and options for fulfilling your distance education needs. Please contact Gregg Kiehl, Library Director, or Tony DeFranco, Coordinator of Learning Technology Services with your questions.

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How to Obtain Copyright Permission

Tompkins Cortland maintains an Annual Copyright License Agreement for Academic Institutions with the Copyright Clearance Center. Through this license, participating publishers allow the reuse of many of their text-based copyrighted content within higher education institutions. The College's faculty, students and staff can use the Copyright Clearance Center's quick search link to search for the publication and then review the coverage that is available to Annual Copyright License holders.

If the Tompkins Cortland library does not own a title that is covered under the Annual Copyright License Agreement the content may still be used under the terms of the license as long as a copy of the requested material has been legally obtained, for example, through interlibrary loan or purchase-on-demand services.

Permission to use copyright-protected materials, when required, should be obtained prior to using those materials. If a title is not covered under the Annual Copyright License Agreement the library can seek permissions on your behalf or offer assistance in identifying equivalent content covered by the license.

If you have obtained permission to reuse content without the assistance of the College's library services it is recommended that the Tompkins Cortland Copyright Officer be sent a copy of each permission form, email or letter.

Reporting Suspected Infringements

Reports of suspected infringement should be directed to Gregg Kiehl - 607.844.8222, Ext. 4354.

Review and Interpretation of Policy

Tompkins Cortland's Copyright Policy is currently under revision. This document is representative of its current form as of 10/11/2010. The Tompkins-Cortland Community College Copyright Compliance Policy will be reviewed each year, and updated if necessary. For interpretation of this Policy, contact Gregg Kiehl, Copyright Officer at 607.844.8222, Ext. 4354

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