As we move deeper into the 21st Century, one of the legal inventions of the past, originally designed to offer stimulus and protection, continues to cause difficulties for educators of the present – copyright. Among the most difficult areas of law to deal with on both an individual and institutional basis, the application of copyright requirements to print and non-print items  can have an immediate impact on how Tusculum instructors teach and how their students learn.

The information provided here is designed to offer assistance. It does not reflect any school policy nor should it be construed as legal advice.

It is usual in academia to first go directly to the source, in this case,  a reading of the  U.S. copyright law and a review of the terms of copyright (what is covered). If you are so inclined, you should certainly review these basics, as offered by the U.S. Copyright Office. That division of the Library of Congress also offers a page of frequently asked questions.

U.S. Copyright Law
U.S. Copyright Office Basics of Copyright

Tusculum University Resources:

Copyright and Fair Use   Power point from Tusculum University  Instructional Support Committee Faculty/Staff Workshop on Copyright and Illegal Downloading, Greeneville Campus,  January 28, 2011.

Illegal Downloading and HEOA  Prezi presentation developed by B.J. Robert for the Faculty/Staff workshop on Copyright and Illegal Downloading January 28, 2011.

The usual first question asked about copyright at TC  Library over the years has been: “What can I use and how can I use it?” Fortunately, our colleagues at the University of Tennessee Libraries have done a marvelous job of addressing this concern, which is technically known as “Fair Use.” The law on Fair Use is also quoted at the Copyright Office site. If you have any further doubts as to what constitutes “Fair Use,” it is recommended that you complete the “Fair Use Checklist,” available from the Copyright Management Center at Indiana University.

In Spring of 2008 a lawsuit  was filed by 3 major academic book publishers against administrators at Georgia State University  through the United States Federal District Court  in Atlanta GA that argue violation of copyright law and fair use through the creation and distribution of  digital course packs.  Find out more here:

Content Use on Campus:  new copyright challenges for senior administrators  a Copyright Clearance Center research study provides an overview and statistical  report on copyright and use of digital information on U.S. college campuses.

University of Tennessee Libraries

Copyright Office Law on Fair Use

Copyright Clearance Center is the organization to contact if it is determined that use goes beyond that outlined in the above references.

Examples of Fair Use include as quoted from the Copyright Clearance Center “Copyright Basics”:

  • Quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment.
  • 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 was unexpected and spontaneous–for example, where an article in the morning’s paper is directly relevant to that day’s class topic.
  • 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 copyrighted work.   “A major focus and interest of the Consortium of College & University Media Centers is the matter of Copyright and its context within the profession, intellectual property issues, government regulations, and public policy. In fact, there is a CCUMC committee, Government Regulations and Public Policy, whose charge is to function as an educational resource for the membership regarding regulations and policies affecting educational technology.”


Whenever a procedure is as complicated as copyright, there are all sorts of legal and other advisory opinions offered upon it; in this case, the Internet has made the communication of these thoughts both simple in application and complicated through the sheer number of sites to wade through.  We have found these sites helpful:

Copyright Clearance Center Academic Resource Center   Designed around user inquiries regarding copyrighted text content in various formats.

Copyright & Fair Use, from Stanford University Libraries, is quite complete and offers an entire section on current legislation, cases and issues, as well as links to additional Internet resources. The "Fair Use Copyright Reminder" by former Stanford provost Condoleezza Rice has been retained.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998   An 18 page  summary of the act from the U.S. Copyright Office.

Cornell Legal Information Institute gives the most detailed legal information on copyright, including links to Federal Judicial Decisions.

IPL2  offers several referred pages of links with descriptions.

Legal Sources for Online Content  provided by Educause.

Los Angeles Unified School District Copyright Policy  is very specific on matters of "fair use".

"Questions and answers on copyright for the campus community" from the National Association of College Stores as recommended by Cliff Hoy, Manager of the TC Bookstore.

Respect Copyrights from the Motion Picture Association of America address the illegal downloading and distribution  of movies and television  programs.

 TEACH Toolkit  Helpful information about the TEACH Act and the exemptions for educators who use digital technologies to share copyrighted digital information, graphics and performances in online courses.

10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained, by web magazine editor Brad Templeton, is according to its author "an attempt to answer common myths about copyright seen on the net..." An interesting presentation to say the least.


Several of our subscription databases provide full-text articles or other resources on copyright. We particularly call to your attention:

ERIC,  Access to education documents and journal abstracts dealing with copyright.   See also ProQuest Education Journals, below.

Infotrac from Gale Cengage Learning  provide full-text articles.

JSTOR contains full text archival journal articles from a variety of scholarly publications.

Lexis Nexis Academic Universe allows its users to check legal journals for information on copyright, including judicial decisions and pending cases.

ProQuest Education Journals can be searched for helpful full-text lists of articles about copyright of interest to educators.

Sample Articles

Thompson, Kate A. "Copyright 101.(about intellectual property or copyright law).Learning & Leading with Technology 32.7 (April 2005): 10(3). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Tusculum College. 23 Oct. 2006.
"Copyright resources." Learning & Leading with Technology 32.7 (April 2005): 22(2). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Tusculum College. 23 Oct. 2006

Dempsey, Joseph.  (April 2004) WebWatch: Copyright and Plagiarism.  Phi Delta Kappan,  85 (8),630. Retrieved July 7, 2004, from Infotrac Web Expanded Academic ASAP. A115050230

Print Sources

James G. Neal's "Copyright is Dead ... Long Live Copyright" in the December 2002 issue of American Libraries is an important review of new regulatory attacks on information users' traditional rights. A valuable read.

Also available are several books in the TC Library Collection as well as several electronic books available through the library ebook collections. You may also check the Library Online Catalog for information on accessing these resources.