Copyright Guidelines

The purpose of this statement is to provide guidelines for the EMU community in the use of materials produced by others. In addition to the legal issues, Christian honesty requires that one acknowledge the sources used. Respect for the intellectual creation of others is a key principle of the university’s rejection of plagiarism by students, staff and faculty. EMU desires that all members of the community be conservative, cautious and considerate in regards to copyright. If there is any doubt, obtain permission.  The individual using the material is responsible to understand and observe copyright standards.

Observing copyright restrictions will protect the faculty and staff as well as the institution from actions that would bring discredit to the common mission. Penalties can be harsh and ignorance of the law is not an acceptable defense. This document is not intended to be a comprehensive statement; it is only a general guide.  True legal advice should come from an attorney who specializes in copyright issues but specific questions should first be addressed to the Director of Libraries.

Copyright law protects almost every type of creative property in a fixed form such as literature, music, dramatic production, pictures, graphics, sculpture, architecture, films, sound recordings, software, etc.  (By contrast, an oral presentation is not considered “fixed” in form.) Only the copyright holder has the right to reproduce the work, make copies of it for distribution, make a derivative of it, perform it publicly and display it publicly; however, he/she may grant that right to others.

The individual is responsible to comply with copyright law. If permission is requested to use copyrighted material, the requestor is strongly encouraged to document all efforts to contact the copyright holder.  Proof of “due diligence” is advantageous if a challenge should arise. Any challenge by the copyright holder should be reported to the Provost immediately.

The following URLs are examples of more extensive copyright statements that might be helpful:

Copyright has changed radically in recent years and could continue to change. The following guidelines are the result of rulings, litigation and interpretation of legal experts, but are not meant to have the force of law.

1. Unless it is specifically stated otherwise, one should assume that created works are protected by copyright even if they do not carry the © symbol.

2. In addition to copyright, software is protected by license agreements.  No member of the EMU community may use unauthorized copies of software on university owned computers.

3. Works in the public domain may be used without permission.  This includes:

  • works published before 1925, (as of 2020.  This is a rolling date and an additional year is added each Jan. 1st. )
  • works published between 1923 and 1963 for which copyright has not been registered or renewed,
  • works published prior to 1989 without copyright notice,
  • works produced by the United States government,
  • freeware (not to be confused with shareware) that the creator made available without restrictions.

4. Works originated (not just published) since 1978 are generally protected for 70 years after the creator’s death but the copyright might have been renewed and assigned to another person or firm.

5. Permission to use copyrighted materials is not required if such usage qualifies as “fair use.” “Fair use” is, however, not easily defined because there is no single criterion for its application.  Fair use in one case might not be fair use in another.  Fair use means the following considerations must be balanced:

  • there will be little or no economic impact through use of the material.  (Is it affordably available elsewhere?)
  • the use is restricted to educational intention. (Not all educational use is fair use and is the material used related to the course objectives?
  • only small portions or non-substantial parts of the work are being used. (Is it limited to a single journal article or a chapter of a book?) 
  • As a general rule, factual works are more often considered fair use than creative works.   When in doubt, get permission.

6. Faculty may usually perform, display, show copyrighted material in their classroom without permission, but they may not open such an event to the public nor charge a fee.

7. Fair use also applies to course management systems so faculty using Moodle must understand its limitations.  Access must be limited to students enrolled in the class, protected by a password, and the other criteria for fair use must be met.  It must be understood that license agreements do not grant users unrestricted rights to download or re-post library materials.  It is recommended that when using resources from Library databases one links to such materials using persistent or stable URLs.  Help can be obtained from the technical services librarian.

8. The use of visuals or digital images by students for class presentations, personal portfolios or at professional conferences is usually considered fair use, but reproduction for publication usually requires copyright permission.

9. One cannot assume that ownership in one medium (such as a VHS tape) gives the right to transfer the item to another medium (such as a DVD).

10. The World Wide Web is not public domain.  Some Internet items are copyrighted; some are not.

11. Hartzler Library provides information on copyright and help with linking,  See using the Copyright tab and the Linking to Library Resources in Moodle tab.

12. The re-use of copyrighted tests, workbook pages and other consumables is a violation of rights of the copyright holder.

13. Commercially prepared videos, such as those available through rental outlets or retail stores, should not be used in the classroom unless the showing would qualify as “fair use.”

14. Because coursepacks and anthologies of copied material have copyright implications, faculty should contact the campus bookstore personnel, who will obtain the permissions and arrange the reproduction of the materials.

Reviewed by Library Staff, April 2020