Information Technology Services

Copyright Policy*

Clark University expects all members of its community to respect the rights of intellectual property ownership by adhering to the United States copyright laws, including amendments made to the laws by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act. Clark University also expects all members of the community to be mindful of the limited rights conferred on them by the “fair use” exemption and other exclusions to the copyright laws.

Works that are subject to copyright protection should only be used with the expressed written permission of the copyright owner or with a documented exception to the copyright law (U.S. Code Title 17 on copyright). While the fair use provision (section 107) is probably the most widely used exception to seeking permission for uses of copyrighted works, especially in the university environment, there are other provisions in the copyright law which outline performance or display exceptions for "face-to-face" classroom settings and distance education (section 110). There are also specific rules for music (section 107, section 112, section 114, and section 115) and works of visual art (section 113). Reliance on this exception should be limited to those cases that clearly meet the fair use balancing test and/or compliance criteria associated with the TEACH Act.  Faculty, students, and other authorized staff should be familiar with these standards and all are encouraged to document a good faith application of these standards to all Clark-related uses.

Not all educational uses are covered by the fair use provision.

Policy in Practice**

Living Clark's copyright policy on a daily basis means that we all make choices about what is and isn't within the spirit of the policy. As you likely know, copyright law is complicated, is governed in large part by case law, and it is riddled with interpretation.

In an effort to balance copyright law with fair use principles, Clark University is committed to providing tools and resources to the University community to assist decision-making in this complex environment.

To help navigate this complicated space, Clark provides assistance to:

    Facilitate making a judgdment about the use of copyrighted materials in your class. We advise use of the four-factor fair use test to determine whether a particular use is a "Fair Use". Learn more about Fair Use Tests in the tab below.

If you ever distributed a short excerpt from a larger work for your class to read or displayed a video clip from to illustrate a teaching concept it is likely that you were exercising your fair use rights or face-to-face teaching rights under copyright law.

Use the links below to learn about Fair Use guidelines for each type of use.

The guidelines covered in the Fair Use section do not describe the outer limits of fair use; they describe a "safe harbor" within the bounds of fair use. So, a use that exceeds the suggestions of the guidelines may still be fair.

Fair Use is susceptible to multiple interpretations. Two people can review the same facts about a proposed use and come to different conclusions about its fairness. That's because one must make many judgments in the course of weighing and balancing the facts. To assist in making a judgment about the balance of a proposed use, we advise use of the four-factor fair use worksheet to determine whether a particular use is "Fair Use". It is suggested that you keep a Four Factor sheet for each resource you use under a fair use exemption.

Use the links below to learn more about the Four Fair Use Factors:

Do you need permission?

You need permission to use a work unless: the work is not protected, you can exercise an owners' exclusive right, or your use qualifies for an exemption (Fair use is the most common exemption).

Ask yourself these 3 questions to evaluate the need for permission to use a work:

  1. Is the work protected?

  2. Are you exercising one of the owner's exclusive rights?

  3. Does your use qualify for an exemption?

Finally if permission is required how do you get permission for your course readers?

Other Resources

The Association of Research Libraries has partnered with Peggy Hoon, a copyright expert to generate an excellent and easy to follow document linked here that may serve as an additional resource in determining your copyrights and "copywrongs".


The Copyright Management Center at Indiana University has a rich array of resources related to copyright, many of which have been authored by Ken Crews (now at Columbia).

Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved."

Georgia State Copyright Case: Resources (EDUCAUSE) provides resources related to the Georgia State copyright case (Cambridge University Press et al. v. Patton et al.). This lawsuit brought by several publishers against Georgia State University involves the use of copyrighted materials in e-reserves in higher education, but the impact of the case and its potential results may be far more reaching.

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*This policy was reviewed and approved by the President and Provost and endorsed by the Information Technology Committee in December 2008.

**Please keep in mind that the information presented here is only general information. True legal advice must be provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship specifically with reference to all the facts of a particular situation.