Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I would like to make a compilation of video clips of various movies about presidents to show my Political Science class. I’ve found a program that lets me “unscramble” the code that prevents copying. Is this fair use?
A. Prior to a recent ruling by the Librarian of Congress, only faculty who taught film or media studies could circumvent the Content Scrambling systems (CSS) that are typically found on DVDs used for educational purposes. In July 2010, this decision was broadened to include faculty in ALL disciplines. The decision also expanded this exemption to documentary film making and noncommercial videos. For more information, go to

Q. I'd like to give my students copies of a few articles I've found that directly relate to class discussion. How many may I copy and distribute? May I post them online?
A. An instructor may make one copy per student of a single chapter from a book, one article from a periodical or newspaper, a short story, essay or short poem, or a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture for discussion or classroom use within certain guidelines of brevity and spontaneity (see guidelines below). These copies cannot be used to create an anthology or course pack, nor can these copies be made from "consumable" items such as workbooks or exercises. If a faculty member wants to post material online, it would need to be an environment with limited access (a password-protected site such as electronic reserves or within a course in a course management system).

Q. May I show Flags of Our Fathers in my class to discuss the depiction of historical events in film?
A. The copyright guidelines concerning performance include the following requirements: the performance (film, musical, etc) must be shown in a classroom or place of instruction, be presented by the instructor or students in the class as a part of face-to-face instruction, and be legally acquired. In other words, an instructor may show a video owned by the Library as part of his/her classroom instruction if related to a class discussion or assignment. He/she cannot show a film that is not directly related to the course curriculum. See also: Performance of or Showing Films in the Classroom

Q. I saw a great cartoon on a website that I would like to use for my own website; if I give credit for the cartoon, may I use it?
A. Although there are various interpretations to the application of fair use guidelines to online materials, everything on the web, both text and graphics, is copyrighted. Unfortunately, because many users and amateur web creators frequently "cut and paste" from other sites on the web, the creator of the site find may not necessarily be the creator of the graphic you want. You should obtain permission to use any item on the web unless you can claim fair use.

Q. The Nursing Department at the University of Nowhere has a great page with links to resources for nursing students; may I offer a link to it from my own web page?
A. A website's URL is not copyrighted; it is simply an address to that site; therefore you may include a link to that site. However, some copyrighted websites are compilations of links, and one would not copy those lists of links. Although it is not necessary for you to get permission from a creator, it is a courtesy to inform the creator of the original site that you are linking to it, particularly if you plan to provide a link to a page within a larger site (deep linking).

Q. HCC does not subscribe to The Journal of Nothing. Every issue has an article with great tips for engaging students. May I request a standing order for the Library's InterLibrary Loan (ILL) department to request that article for me each quarter?
A. No. All ILL services operate under certain copyright guidelines concerning requests of journal articles. This "rule of five" states that within one year a library may not request copies of more than five articles from the last five years of issues of the same periodical title (regardless of whether one patron or more make the requests). Therefore, providing that no one else has requested articles from that periodical, you may receive up to five articles from that journal within the last five years.