Copyright Statutes and Regulations for Higher Education

The US Copyright Act is codified at 17 U.S.C. (“Title 17″).

Key sections for the higher education community include:

  • 17 U.S.C. 107 – “fair use”, which especially privileges scholarly, critical, and educational uses;
  • 17 U.S.C. 109 – the “first sale” doctrine, which allows owners of particular copies of works to re-sell, lend, or otherwise manipulate their personal copy of a work;
  • 17 U.S.C. 108 – exceptions for libraries and archives;
  • 17 U.S.C. 110 – exceptions for teaching, public radio, government agencies, and disability access, among others;
  • 17 U.S.C. 121 – the “Chafee Amendment”, exceptions for disability access;
  • 17 U.S.C. 201 – ownership, transferr, and works-for-hire;
  • 17 U.S.C. 504(c)(2)(i) – exemption from damages for nonprofit educational institutions, libraries, archives, and their employees, so long as they reasonably believed their uses were fair uses;
  • 17 USC 1201(d) – exemption from anticircumvention provisions for educationa institutions, libraries, and archives, to evaluate content for purchase;

Additionally, the Copyright Office regulates some particular uses periodically, including:

  • Exemptions from 17 USC 1201 (the “anticircumvention” provisions), including since 2006 broad exemptions for using DVDs in teaching;
  • Performance rates, including for college radio.

Internationally, copyright (and other “intellectual property” regimes) are governed by various treaties, developed and administered by WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization.  To be effective in the United States, the US must sign the treaty, and pass implementing legislation here in the United States. Please contact Laura Quilter, the Copyright and Information Policy Librarian, if international copyright is of particular concern — for instance, if you work in another country with copyrighted materials, or you work in the United States with foreign works from non-treaty participants (including Afghanistan, East Timor, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kiribati, Nauru, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu).