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Mission College Organizational and Professional Development Resources: Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright/ Fair Use Overview

Basic Definitions

Copyright - Copyright protection exists from the moment a work is created in a fixed, tangible form of expression. The copyright immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author, or those deriving their rights through the author, can rightfully claim copyright. In the case of works made for hire, the employer—not the writer—is considered the author.

Fair Use - Fair use is a concept embedded in U.S. Copyright law that recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works do not require permission from the copyright holder or its agent. These include instances of minimal use that do not interfere with the copyright holder's exclusive rights to reproduce and reuse the work. Fair use is primarily intended to allow the use of copyright-protected works for commentary, parody, news reporting, research and education.

The TEACH ACT - Although copyright law generally treats digital and non-digital copyright-protected works in a similar manner, special digital uses, such as online distance learning and course management systems, require special attention. Some of the special copyright requirements of online distance learning are specifically addressed by the TEACH Act.

From: The Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance: Copyright Basics.The Copyright Clearance Canter (


Public Domain

Resources for Obtaining Permission to Reproduce Copyrighted Content

Are You Breaking the Law?

Tips for avoiding copyright infringement:

Text (photocopies, PDF downloads, printouts from the Web):

-›Only provide copies that meet the fair use guidelines* or for which you have permission
-Put a copy of the work on reserve at the Library for your students to access
-›Provide links or search instructions for works that do not meet fair use or for which you do not have permission (refer to the Mission College Handout, Using Database Articles as Course Material, for sample search instructions).

Note that it is never okay to copy or scan pages from a workbook.

Images (from print or the Internet):

-Use legally obtained copies (Mission faculty have permission to use images in their course material from Artstor)
-Do not use more than five by the same artist or photographer
-Do not use more than one per book or periodical issue
-Do not alter the image

Videos & Podcasts:

-Use legally obtained copies
-Do not use clips to create an anthology
-›Provide inks to videos, films, film clip, and podcasts
-›Only embed videos, films, film clips, or podcasts for works for which you have permission (Mission faculty have permission to embed Films on Demand videos into ANGEL)

Multimedia presentations

-›Include “contains copyrighted material” statement on first screen
-›Do not post to free Web
-Use images and text that meet fair use guidelines*
-›Only use video and music that meet fair use guidelines*
-›Do not use same video clips or music clips for more than two years
-›Upload the presentation to the Mission streaming server so that multiple copies are not required

*Use the guidelines and checklist below to help determine if a work is considered fair use. Note that the fair use guidelines refer to the amount of the work copied, the affect copying will have on the author. and spontaneity. Spontaneity means that your decision to use a work that is over the amount allowed has not left you enough time to request permission. You can use it once citing "spontaneity," but if you intend to use it again, you need permission.

Resources for Finding Works You Can Use Freely

Material is free to use if it does not require a license or permission to use it, or for which the primission is given in such a way that you do not have to ask for it. Use the resources below to find material that does not require you to ask permisson to use.

Resources/Guidelines for Using Copyrighted Content in the Classroom

Books About Copyright, Fair Use, and The TEACH Act @ Mission College Library

Listed below is a selection of books available from Mission College Library. Click on the book's title to see the library catalog record for the book. Note that the call number "Online" indicates that the book is an e-book and can be read online. If you are off-campus, you will be prompted to enter your name and Mission College I.D. For information regarding accessing, downloading, printing, and emailing e-books, refer to the Mission College E-book Handout.