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Copyright Guide for Faculty: Copyright Law

Copyright for Faculty

The purpose of this guide is to provide Broward College faculty with basic information about copyright law and fair use in an academic setting. This guide is not meant to offer or substitute for legal advice.

Broward College Policy

All College employees are expected

  • to have a basic understanding of copyright law and to adhere to all laws regarding copyright
  • to act in good faith when using copyrighted materials to support educational and research activities

Copyright law defined

Copyright law, as defined in Title 17 of the United States Code, protects "original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression" for a limited period. Copyright protection includes, for instance, the legal right to publish and sell literary, artistic, or musical work, and copyright protects authors, publishers and producers, and the public.  Copyright applies both to traditional media (books, DVDs, CDs, etc.) and to digital media (electronic journals, web sites, etc.). Copyright protects the following eight categories of works:

  • literary works
  • musical works
  • dramatic works
  • pantomimes and choreographic works
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • sound recordings
  • architectural works

Ownership of a copyrighted work includes the right to control the use of that work. Use of such work by others during the term of the copyright requires either permission from the author or reliance on the doctrine of fair use. Failure to do one or the other will expose the user to a claim of copyright infringement for which the law provides remedies including payment of monetary damages to the copyright owner.

(Thanks to Carol Funker at Southwestern University for this succinct definition.)