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Copyright Policies and Guidelines

St. Clair County Community College Copyright Guidelines

St. Clair County Community College Copyright Guidelines

The purpose of this document is to provide a summary of U.S. copyright law as it relates to the use of copyright-protected works in the classroom and library at St. Clair County Community College (SC4), and to provide guidelines and procedures for obtaining copyright permission to use these works. These guidelines are intended to supplement the St. Clair County Community College Board Policy 2.20 – Copyright.

The goal of this document is to provide faculty, staff, and students with a standard approach for addressing copyright issues. This policy covers classroom issues such as photocopying, online and distance education, and course packs. It also covers library uses for print and electronic reserves and interlibrary loan. This document sets guidelines for copyright-related matters; however, it is not a substitute for legal advice, and proper legal advice should be obtained when necessary.

What is copyright and what does it do?
Copyright is an area of law that provides creators and distributors of creative works with an incentive to share their works by granting them the right to be compensated when others use those works in certain ways. Specific rights are granted to the creators of creative works in the U.S. Copyright Act (title 17, U.S. Code). If you are not a copyright holder for a particular work, as determined by the law, you must ordinarily obtain copyright permission prior to reusing or reproducing that work. However, there are some specific exceptions in the Copyright Act for which written permission is not required.

Rights and provisions granted by the Copyright Act are intended to protect and benefit authors and owners of works of literary, visual, musical, choreographic, dramatic, audiovisual architectural and other creation in a variety of representations. These works are protected by copyright upon creation by default. Copyright does not protect spontaneous works or performance or to abstract concepts or ideas. Among the exclusive rights granted to copyright holders are the rights to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform and publicly display their works.

In the U.S., the general rule of copyright duration for a work created on or after January 1, 1978 is the author's life plus 70 years after the author's death. This is often referred to as "life-plus-70". Works created by companies or other types of organizations generally have a copyright term of 95 years. 

Fair Use

Provision for fair use of works protected by copyright is found in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act. This allows, in certain instances, the use, including reproduction for classroom use, of copyrighted works without written permission of the rights holder(s). Use of a work is most likely to be considered fair if it is used for teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, comment, or news reporting. Consideration must also be given to the following four factors:

  1. The purpose and character of use (principally, whether for commercial or nonprofit educational use);
  2. The nature of the copyright-protected work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used; and
  4. The effect of the use being evaluated upon the potential market for or value of the copyright-protected work.

The intended use should be considered in relation to all of these factors, and favorable or unfavorable analysis of any single factor does not imply or dismiss the use as fair. Fair use requires a very circumstance-specific analysis. St. Clair County Community College provides a Fair Use Analysis Checklist for use by faculty, staff, and students.

In general, St. Clair County Community College interprets the following situations as fair use:

  • Quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work for illustration or clarification of the author's observations.
  • Reproduction of material for classroom use where the reproduction is unexpected and spontaneous – for example, where an article in the morning's paper is directly relevant to that day's class topic. This would generally cover one time use in only one semester.
  • Use in a parody of short portions of the work itself.
  • A summary of an address or article, which may include quotations of short passages of the copyright-protected work.

If the intended use does not meet the above criteria and the work is protected by copyright, you may need to obtain permission to use the work from the copyright holder or its agent.

Types of use
Classroom Handouts

Based on fair use analysis, classroom handouts fall into two categories; one that requires permission and one that does not. If the handout is a new work for which you could not reasonably be expected to obtain permission in a timely manner and the decision to use the work was spontaneous, you may use that work without obtaining permission. However, if the handout is planned in advance, repeated from semester to semester, or involves works that have existed long enough that one could reasonably be expected to obtain copyright permission in advance, you must obtain copyright permission to use the work.

If St. Clair County Community College library owns a copy of a publication, the library may place that copy on reserve without obtaining copyright permission. A course reserve request form with accompanying title list must be completed by the requesting faculty each semester that the material is to be placed on reserve. If the library wishes to reproduce additional copies of a work and place them on reserve for students to review, in either paper or electronic format, the library must obtain copyright permission. Any electronic course reserves 

Photocopying In the Library
It is permissible to photocopy copyright-protected works in St. Clair County Community College library without obtaining permission from the copyright owner, under the following circumstances:

  • Library user requests for articles and short excerpts. At the request of a library user or another library on behalf of a library user, the SC4 library may make one reproduction of an article from a periodical or a small part of any other work. The reproduction must become the property of the library user, and the library must have no reason to believe that the reproduction will be used for purposes other than private study, scholarship and research. As recommended by Section 108 of the Copyright Act, the library must display the register's notice at the place library users make their reproduction requests to the library.
  • Archival reproductions of unpublished works. Up to three reproductions of any unpublished work may be made for preservation or security or for deposit for research use in another library or archive. This may be a photocopy or digital reproduction. If it is a digital reproduction, the reproduction may not be made available to the public outside the library or archive premises. Prior to receiving any of the three reproductions permitted under this provision from another library or archive, the SC4 library or archive must make a reasonable effort to purchase a new replacement at a fair price. The reproducing library or archive must also own the work in its collection.
  • Replacement of lost, damaged or obsolete copies. The SC4 library may make up to three reproductions, including digital reproductions, of a published work that is lost, stolen, damaged, deteriorating or stored in an obsolete format. Any digital reproductions must be kept within the confines of the library (that is, available on its computer but not placed on a public network.)
  • Library user requests for entire works. One reproduction of an entire book or periodical may be made by your library at a library user's request, or by another library on behalf of a library user upon certain conditions being met. These conditions include the library determining after reasonable investigation that an authorized reproduction cannot be obtained at a reasonable price. Once made, the reproduction must become the property of the library user. The library must have no reason to believe that the reproduction will be used by the user for purposes other than private study, scholarship and research, and the library must display the register's notice at the place library users make their reproduction requests to the library.

Photocopying for students
SC4 library may make reproductions for library users (students, faculty, etc.), provided the following criteria are met:

  • The library makes one reproduction of an article from a periodical or a small part of any other work.
  • The reproduction becomes the property of the library user.
  • The library has no reason to believe that the reproduction will be used for purposes other than private study, scholarship and research.
  • The library displays the register's notice at the place library users make their reproduction requests to the library.

Photocopying by students
Photocopying by students is subject to a fair use analysis as well. A single photocopy of a portion of a copyright-protected work, such as a copy of an article from a scientific journal made for research, may be made without permission. Photocopying all the assignments from a book recommended for purchase by the instructor, making multiple copies of articles or book chapters for distribution to classmates, or copying material from consumable workbooks, all require permission.

The SC4 library may participate in interlibrary loans without obtaining permission provided that the "aggregate quantities" of articles or items received by the patron do not substitute for a periodical subscription or purchase of a work. SC4 follows the CONTU guidelines for defining "aggregate quantities." The CONTU guidelines state that requesting and receiving more than five articles from a single periodical within a calendar year or a total of six or more copies of articles published within five years prior to the date of request would be too many under CONTU.

If the articles or items being copied have been obtained through a digital license, you must check the license to see under what terms and conditions, if any, interlibrary loan is permitted.

Distance Education and Course Management Systems
In 2002, the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act became law and expanded the latitude institutions, including SC4, have for the performance and display of copyright-protected materials in a distance education environment, including through the use of Course Management Systems (CMS).

The copyright requirements for TEACH and CMS postings are similar to those of classroom handouts, but extend the traditional rules for those handouts to the digital transmission of materials to distance education students. If the use is spontaneous and will not be repeated, copyright permission is not required; however, the content may not remain posted for extended periods of time. If the use is planned, repeated or involves works that have existed long enough that one could reasonably expect to receive a response to a request for copyright permission, you must obtain copyright permission.

All articles, chapters and other individual works in any print or electronic coursepack require copyright permission. Copyright permission for coursepacks is usually granted by the academic period. To reuse a coursepack in subsequent academic periods (e.g.: semester, quarter, trimester, etc.), you probably need to obtain permission again. Many copyright holders provide time-sensitive permission because their own rights may be time-sensitive and could be transferred to different copyright holders at any time.

When ordering coursepacks it is important to clarify who will obtain permission for the coursepack– the printshop or the faculty member or a member of the administrative staff. Deferring responsibility for copyright permission will not provide you protection against a claim of copyright infringement.

Copyright and Foreign Works
The U.S. is a member of the leading international copyright treaty, the Berne Convention. As such, when SC4 uses a copyright-protected work from another country, the protections provided to works by U.S. copyright law automatically apply to the use of that work as well (assuming the use takes place in the U.S.). Copyright Clearance Center has many reciprocal licenses to allow use of materials from other countries.

Obtaining copyright permission
Permission to use copyright-protected materials, when required, should be obtained prior to using those materials. Permission must be given in writing (including e-mail). The St. Clair County Community College Copyright Officer has a copy of sample permission forms and letters for use.

The time to obtain permission may vary and, where possible, it is recommended to start the permissions procedure at least six months prior to the time that you wish to use the materials. If you need a quicker permission, let the copyright owner know this and he/she may be able to get back to you more quickly.

Fact Finding Questions
Once you have identified the materials you want to use and determined that copyright permission is required, you must locate the copyright holder. If the copyright holder is not listed on the work, locating the appropriate person or entity to grant permission may take some investigative and creative work. Copyright is automatically granted to all works upon their being written down but registration with the Copyright Office is not required. All reasonable efforts should be made to identify and contact the copyright holder to seek permission.

Information in your Permission Request
The copyright holder or its agent will require the following information in order to provide you with permission:

  • Title of the material
  • Creator/author of the material
  • Publisher of the material
  • Description of material
  • ISBN or ISSN, if applicable
  • Date of publication, if applicable
  • Purpose for which you wish to reproduce the item (research, commercial, educational, etc.)
  • How the material is to be reproduced (e.g., photocopied, digitized)
  • Where the reproduced material will be used or will appear and for how long

Reporting suspected infringements

If you suspect that anyone at St. Clair County Community College, including a student, is using any copyright-protected material without the permission of the copyright holder, immediately report this to Hayley Bommarito, Director of Library Services at 810-989-5794 or

Review and interpretation of the copyright guidelines

St. Clair County Community College copyright guidelines will be reviewed regularly and updated when necessary. 

The St. Clair County Community College Campus Copyright Guidelines document was most recently updated on April 15, 2019 and is derived from the Copyright Clearance Center’s compliance policy.


Have a copyright question?

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Jane Lewandoski
Phone (810) 989-5640
Text (810) 515-7343