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Copyright Information & Resources

What is Copyright?

Copyright symbol

Copyright, the right of the copyright holder to control the duplication, performance, and distribution of a work, applies to almost all creative and intellectual works. Copyright covers printed works such as books and journals, and their electronic equivalents. Sound recordings, motion pictures, photographs, works of art, computer programs, websites, and music are also covered by copyright.

Policy 01:012 sets forth the University of Montevallo's policy regarding copyright compliance.

The following pages provide information about copyright as it applies in an academic setting.

If you have questions about copyright, please contact Charlotte Ford, University Copyright Officer, 205-665-6100.

Image credit: Mike Seyfang

ARL's Code of Best Practices in Fair Use

In 2012, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) released a document entitled, "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries."  The report seeks to outline principles for fair use, and it attempts to tie legal definitions of fair use to the pedagogical defensibility of a digitially-circulated text.

Georgia State Case

In April 2008, three prominent academic publishers (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Georgia State University in response to the use of electronic course reserves and electronic course sites to make available excerpts from academic books to students enrolled in specific courses at GSU. The plaintiffs argued that the amount of material being used from individual sources exceeded the amount allowed under the fair use doctrine. 

Below is a brief summary outlining the salient points of Judge Orlinda Evans’ ruling, issued on Friday, May 11, 2012. The decision has important implications to the future practice of using copyrighted material in academic instruction.

  • Determination of the portion used requires the counting of all pages in non-fiction books with fewer than ten chapters or no chapters at all. The Court ruled there was no copyright infringement in the case where the excerpt was less than 10% of the total pagination.

  • The Court rejected the argument that the faculty selection of an excerpt of a work constitutes the "heart of the work".
  • The Court emphasized the importance of limiting access to students enrolled in the course and only for
    the term of the course. The work must serve the course curriculum and copyright policy must prohibit
    students from distributing copies of the work.