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Copyright Law for Faculty & Students

Legal Exemptions to Copyright

Legal exemptions to copyright include:

  • First Sale: copy, loan or resell a legally purchased copy
  • Classroom: display/perform the work in a classroom setting
  • Libraries: make preservation copies, interlibrary loan, protection against unsupervised copiers
  • Fair Use: for criticism, comment, reporting, teaching, scholarship, research UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS (four factors)

The Fair Use Conditions (the four factors) are:

  • PURPOSE: the purpose and character of the use (educational vs. commercial, etc.)
  • NATURE: the nature of the work (fiction or non-fiction, etc.)
  • AMOUNT: the amount or portion used related to the whole (hint: less is better)
  • EFFECT: the effect of the use on the potential market or value of the work

It is important to demonstrate good faith efforts at meeting Fair Use conditions and when in doubt, seek permission from the copyright owner.

Fair Use in the Academy


The TEACH Act stems from the previous copyright laws that allow educators to copy documents or use copyrighted materials in a face-to-face classroom setting.

Due of the growth of distance education that does not contain a face-to-face classroom setting, revisions to these laws, particularly sections 110(2)[1] and 112(f)[2] of the U.S. Copyright Act, were needed.

Author Rights for Published Works

If your work has been published by a traditional publisher, you may have transferred some or all of your copyrights to them as part of the publication process. In this case, the publisher may allow you to still post the work publicly but may have certain restrictions to its posting.

You will need to know the copyright status of your work or your publisher’s policies if you would like to submit the work to any institutional repositories, such as the eCommons at Roseman.


Retain Your Rights as the Author of a Journal Article

Add an author addendum to your publication agreement. The author addendum will ensure that you retain your copyright and can distribute your work as you see fit.

Save your preprints and postprints! Even if you publish in a traditional journal, it's likely that you'll be able to submit a non-final version of your article in an institutional repository like the eCommons at Roseman.

The eCommons at Roseman

In order to submit a work to the eCommons at Roseman you must hold the copyright to that work or have the approval of the copyright holder to do so. Some publishers, for instance, only allow posting of the preprint or post print version of an article or book chapter, not the final published version.

To determine your journal or publisher's policy towards submitting to an institutional repository, we recommend consulting Sherpa Romeo, a public database of publisher copyright policies as a starting point. Sherpa Romeo does not cover all journals or publishers, may not have the most current publisher information, and should not be relied upon as legal counsel.