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Copyright and You

copyright logoA professor hands out copies of a newspaper article to read and discuss in class. Is this a violation of copyright or acceptable under the fair use doctrine? Does including a notice of copyright with each copy change anything?

If students film a parody of a copyrighted movie, is this considered fair use?

A faculty member scans an out of print book and uploads each chapter as a .PDF into their Cougar Course. Fair use or not?

Can you legally download a chapter of an e-book with a Creative Commons license, edit that chapter and post it in your course?  

If you're not sure of the answers to these questions, it's time to familiarize yourself with the current state of copyright, the fair use exception and the four factors you must consider when determining whether your proposed use of copyrighted works constitutes fair use. The Center for Media & Social Impact has also created a series of principles/best practices in fair use for academic libraries, journalists, filmmakers and other disciplines that aim to simplify and interpret fair use in light of recent court cases.

You should also understand the purpose of Creative Commons licensing and the range of licenses, each of which grants different usage rights. 

The resources here are intended to inform and offer guidance, however, the fair use road map can be tricky to navigate. Unfortunately, the only way to get a definitive answer on whether a particular use is a fair use is to have it resolved in court. 

Creative Commons logo  

Have you ever wondered how to download and share digital content legally? How do you let people know that you want them to reuse your own work? Creative Commons licences can help you do both. This short video will show you how.

Home screen of video Using Creative commons licensing

Copyright Crash Course - from University of Texas
Fundamentals of Copyright and Fair Use - CSU Office of General Council, 2007
Fair Use, FAQs for Professors - from the Center for Social Media
Code of Best Practices - Fair Use in Academic Libraries - from the Center for Media & Social Impact
CSUSM Library - Faculty Reserve Guidelines regarding copyright and Fair Use.


Learn more at
Center for Social Media and Social Impact