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Copyright and Fair Use

Learn About Copyright

The Library offers scheduled and on-demand workshops on copyright and fair use. Check the calendar for upcoming events or to request a customized workshop.

Copyright Policies at CSU-Pueblo

This guide is intended to provide CSU-Pueblo faculty, staff, and students with an understanding of copyright law, fair use applications, and intellectual property law.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing on these pages should be construed as legal advice. Please contact the CSU Office of General Counsel for legal assistance.

  • The CSU-Pueblo Faculty Handbook requires faculty to adhere to all applicable laws and policies regarding copyright. General policy states that faculty are the sole copyright holders of their scholarly works and pedagogical tools (articles, textbooks, lectures), but there are exceptions for works expressly commissioned by the University, produced using University resources, or works financed by outside agencies. See section 2.6.1 for more information.
  • The CSU-Pueblo Administrative/Professional Staff Handbook states “employees should be aware of the rules governing the use of copyright materials” (3.3).
  • The CSU-Pueblo Student Code of Conduct prohibits CSU-Pueblo students from using University technology resources to violate copyright law (12.c).

Copyright Basics

What is copyright? What does it protect?

Copyright is a form of protection that covers both published and unpublished original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. There are eight general categories of such works, which should be interpreted broadly:

  • literary works
  • musical works, including any accompanying words
  • dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  • pantomimes and choreographic works
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • sound recordings
  • architectural works

What does copyright NOT protect?

Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. It also does not protect data (although it may protect the ways data is expressed, like graphs and charts).

I am the copyright holder. What am I allowed to do?

As the copyright holder, you have the exclusive right to do and authorize others to do the following:

  • Make copies of the work
  • Make derivative works based on the original work
  • Distribute copies of the work by sale, rental, lease, or lending
  • Perform or display the work publicly 

 These rights can be transferred in whole or in part through a written and signed contract. 

Who can claim copyright?

As soon as a work is created in a fixed medium (e.g., written down, graphed, coded), the work is copyrighted and belongs to the creator(s). If the creator wishes to publish or distribute the work, they may sign a contract with a publishing or recording company. The company will need to acquire some or all of the copyrights in order to edit, print, copy, and sell the work.

If the creator(s) transfer full copyright to another entity, they are no longer able to make copies of their own work, distribute it, or use it in classrooms, without permission from the new copyright holder.

Fair Use

What is fair use? 

Fair use permits the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. 

I'm using something for educational purposes—isn't that automatically fair use? 

No! There is a common misconception that education and teaching automatically fall under fair use, but this is not true. The Classroom Use Exemption (17 U.S.C. § 110(1)) only applies to in-person, face-to-face instruction in a classroom at a non-profit educational institution. It allows for the performance or display of any copyrighted work without seeking permission, but does not apply to making or distributing copies or to online instruction.

How do I determine fair use?

17 U.S.C. § 107 provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is fair use and identifies certain types of uses—criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify. Classroom instructors should follow this four factors framework in determining fair use applications.

The "four factors" of fair use:

Purpose  Nature
Why are you using this particular work?  How are you using this work?
Amount Effect
How much of the work are you using?  Does your use potentially disrupt sales for the work?
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