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Copyright Policy

Harford Community College Board of Trustees Policy Statement

It is the policy of Harford Community College that all questions regarding the use of copyrighted material will be resolved before the material becomes part of authorized College activities. The responsibility to obtain permission to duplicate any copyrighted materials including but not limited to literary works, computer programs, musical works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, sound recordings, and audiovisual works, lies with the individual requesting duplication. The College expects that the requestor has written permission prior to duplication and/or use in all cases that are beyond the bounds of Copyright Act of 1976 [17 USC Section 106 et se.], the Digital Millennium Act of 1998 [112 Stat. 2860], and the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act of 2002 [17 USC Section 110 (2)].

Fair Use Criteria

The Copyright Law of the United States, Chapter 1 Section §107 defines four factors that are used as the basis of "fair use" for classroom use of copyrighted materials.

Purpose and Character of the Use

Nonprofit educational purposes are generally favored over commercial uses. Courts also favor uses that are "transformative," or that are not merely reproductions. Examples would be quotations incorporated into a paper or perhaps pieces of a work mixed into a multimedia product for your own teaching needs. There should be no charge to the user beyond the cost of copying. The use should be spontaneous and intended for one semester only.

The Nature of the Copyrighted Work

Courts tend to give greater protection to creative works; consequently, fair use applies more broadly to nonfiction, rather than fiction. Courts also are usually more protective of art, music, poetry, feature films, and other creative works than they might be of nonfiction works.

The Amount or Substantiality of the Portion Used

The portion of the work used, in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, is limited. An article copied in its entirety is an entire work, as is a short story included in a compilation. Photographs and artwork are problematic, because a user usually needs the full image, or the full "amount," and this may not be a fair use. However, courts have ruled that a "thumbnail" or low-resolution version of an image is a lesser "amount." Such a version of an image might adequately serve educational or research purposes.

Market Effect on the Original

The use of the work will not disrupt the normal commercial market for the material. Copyrighted material should not be reproduced or made accessible through an online course, library reserves, or classroom use in such a way that it eliminates the purchase of required course materials by students. Licensing agreements for digital or alternate formats of a work supersede this fair use criterion.



Guidelines for Specific Formats

Printed Materials for Classroom Use

Single copies of the following are permissible: one chapter of a book, one article from a newspaper or periodical, a short story, a short essay or poem, a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper. A complete poem may be duplicated if it is less than 250 words. A complete article, story or essay may be copied if it is less than 2,500 words. Excerpts may be copied as follows: no more than 500 words or 10% [to a maximum of 1,000 words]. Multiple copies for classroom use or discussion, not to exceed one copy per pupil in a course, may be made provided that an assessment of the four fair use guidelines supports it.

The following uses are NOT permitted:

  • Copying of more than one work or two excerpts from a single author during one class term
  • Copying more than three works from a collective work or periodical volume during one class term
  • Making copies of more than nine works for distribution to students in one class term
  • Using photocopies to create, replace or substitute for an anthology
  • Copying of "consumable" works, such as workbooks, standardized tests and answer sheets
  • Copying the same work from term to term without permission 

Library Reserves

A reasonable number of copies, as determined by the Library, may be made of a copyrighted printed work to be placed on reserve for one semester only. Length of such copies shall follow guidelines for printed materials. Legally obtained personal copies of books and media items may also be placed on reserve. Books or DVDs owned by the Library may be placed on reserve for multiple semesters, but a new reserve request must be submitted each semester. In all cases reserve requests are subject to fair use analysis by Library staff and should be able to meet at least three out of four of the criteria outlined above.

Audiovisual (AV) and Pictorial Works

Instructors may record a television public broadcast and retain it for up to 45 calendar days, then erase or destroy it. These may be used only once within the first ten working days of the 45-day period. The College may reproduce a limited number of copies of the broadcast to meet legitimate needs of instruction, but the broadcasts may not be altered in any way or combined to create a compilation or anthology and must include a notice of copyright. The use of streaming or other alterations of format are subject to the conditions outlined in the TEACH Act. Library staff may make one copy of a copyrighted software program, DVD or VHS tape as a backup for the original in case of damage or loss, but that copy will not be used unless the original is unusable or in an obsolete format that is no longer readable and can no longer be replaced.

Performance, Display and Transmission of Works

Only faculty and students may perform or display copyrighted works in the course of face-to-face instruction. Noncommercial performances of non-dramatic literary and musical works must ensure no fees or compensation to performers, promoters or organizers; no admission fees may be charged. For further information on providing online access to materials performed or displayed, see this explanation of the TEACH Act requirements from the University System of Georgia.


One emergency copy may be made to replace purchased copies that are not available for an imminent performance; a replacement copy should be purchased in a reasonable time period. Copies of excerpts that do not represent more than 10 percent of the work as whole, or that constitute a "performable unit" (such as a section or movement), are permitted. One copy of recordings of student performances may be made for evaluation or rehearsal; these may be retained by the faculty or the College. Faculty may also make one copy of a recording for in-class activities or testing purposes. In no cases is it permissible to change the format of a recorded work if circumvention of technological restrictions on the original work is necessary to make a new copy, or if an existing license prohibits such activity, or if the desired alternate format of the work is legally available for purchase.

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan refers to the process of borrowing publications or obtaining surrogates of publications library to library on behalf of library patrons. Interlibrary loan guidelines were developed by the National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU), and are derived from Section 108 of the Copyright Law.

No more than five articles from a given periodical within any calendar year published within five years prior to the date of request is permitted.

If a library has a subscription for a periodical, but it is not immediately available, the library may consider the copy obtained from another library as if made from its own collection.

All interlibrary loan requests must be accompanied by a copyright compliance statement by the requesting library.

The requesting library must maintain records of all requests and of the fulfillment of these requests. The records must be retained for three complete calendar years after the end of the calendar year in which the requests were made.

Web and Other Electronic Materials

One should assume Internet documents and web pages are copyrighted unless otherwise indicated. Copyright law covers all electronic content, including but not limited to web pages, electronic mail, software, electronic documents and bulletin board postings, unless the material is copyright-free (for example, federal documents, material containing a statement of permission to copy, or content in the public domain). Prior permission is not needed to link to another website. It is courteous to contact the owner of a site for permission to link directly to an internal page in a site. Users may make one copy of a copyrighted software program as a backup for the original as a precaution against loss or damage. In general, most software is intended for use by a single user, or by multiple users on a single computer; networked applications may allow for multiple users and/or computers, depending on the contract for use.

Securing Permission

Individuals must request permission to use a copyrighted work directly from the copyright owner. The Copyright Clearance Center is another source to obtain permissions. Certain College operations (library, copy center, etc.) may require proof of granted copyright permission. A sample letter from the University of Texas provides an idea of what should be included in the request.

Guidelines Specific to Distance Learning

In November 2002 the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH) became law and updated existing copyright laws with regard to distance education. This page provides information on the use of copyrighted materials protected by TEACH. For any uses that are unclear in TEACH or do not fall within the purview of TEACH legislation, review the fair use guidelines provided above. For additional information, read the American Library Association’s New Copyright Law for Distance and Education: The Meaning and Importance of the TEACH Act. Faculty must take reasonable protection when using materials for their online courses, including using password-protected sites, notifying students about copyright issues, limiting use to a specified period of time roughly equal to the time used in a physical classroom and incorporating the material in an integral way to course discussion.

Acceptable use of materials under TEACH

The TEACH Act permits the use of the following copyrighted works:

  • Nondramatic literary works
  • Nondramatic musical works
  • "Reasonable and limited portions" of other works, including audiovisual and dramatic works

The law broadens the transmission of material to locations outside the classroom where students can access online course pages. Faculty must take reasonable actions to limit the access of material, including instituting password-protected sites or using commercial courseware that restricts access to currently enrolled students.

The law states that copyrighted material may not remain available for access for a period longer than necessary for the needs of the course. The digitized material may, however, be retained electronically for later use, provided the storage facility and equipment is secure.

Unacceptable use of materials under TEACH

Some works are expressly prohibited under the TEACH legislation. These include digital educational works considered "primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks" and pirated copies of materials.

Reserve readings and TEACH

The TEACH Act does not expressly cover reserve readings held in the Library or accessible through academic courseware. Legitimate use of such materials is still governed by intelligent application of the principles of fair use.