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Faculty Services: Copyright


This site is intended for informational purposes only. Library staff cannot give legal advice. For legal advice, contact an intellectual property attorney.

What is Covered by Copyright

Copyright law applies to “original works of authorship.”  This includes creative and scholarly works, including books, articles, music, computer software, and movies. However, commonly known information, ideas, and short phrases are not covered by copyright law. To read more about what are considered original works of authorship, take a look at the Trotter Hardy’s overview of copyright and digital archives and the U.S. Copyright Office’s Copyright Basics document.

Some older works are no longer protected under copyright, and are considered part of the public domain. Almost all works published before 1923 are part of the public domain. Copyright law changed several times during the 20th century, and  has special considerations for works published anonymously, unpublished work, and works that were not copyrighted properly. The U.S. Copyright Office offers a more detailed guide to the Duration of Copyright, and Cornell University offers a helpful chart on Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States.

Copyright at LBCC

LBCC Policies Related to Copyright

According to LBCC Administrative Rules, each person is held individually responsible for following the established copyright policy and administrative rules. For additional information please refer to LBCC's related Administrative Rules:

If you are a faculty member with questions about the ownership of your works, refer to the intellectual property section of your faculty contract.

Copyright and Fair Use During COVID

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies offered free access to their resources, and many library copyright experts signed a statement asserting that "making materials available and accessible to students in this time of crisis will almost always be a fair use.” This argument may be less valid now than in March 2020, since we have had more time to adjust to the current situation. Additionally, neither the Copyright Office nor the courts have yet weighed in on this. Therefore, faculty still need to consider all four factors of fair use when sharing "all rights reserved" materials digitally with their students. Concretely, you might:
  • Check with the library to see if there's a freely available link, or if a digital license for a resource is available at a reasonable cost.
    • Owning a DVD or book in print does not generally give you or the library the right to make a digital copy of it.
    • Licenses intended for individuals, like those from Netflix, Youtube, and Hulu, do not generally give you permission to share with a group.
    • It's generally better okay to link to a resource that's freely available on the web, but don't share links that are clearly pirated.
  • If a digital license cannot be procured and you must rely on fair use, share the minimal amount necessary for your teaching goal (factor 3 of a fair use analysis). For example, instead of digitizing a whole film, you might show a few clips, instead.
  • Always share via a password-protected environment like Kaltura or Moodle, so the resource is only available to the students in your class (factor 4 of a fair use analysis).
  • See the "Fair Use Recommendations for LBCC Faculty" section of this guide for more guidance.
Here are some other helpful resources on fair use and copyright during COVID-19:

Copyright FAQs

Isn't educational use the same as fair use?

Unfortunately, no.  Using an item for an educational only counts towards one factor of fair use; you must consider all four of the factors to make a fair use determination.

Is it always fair use to use 10% or less of a work?

No.  Copyright law does not provide a percentage that would constitute fair use.  Generally, the smaller the amount used, the more likely it is that the use is fair.  However, the other factors must also be considered.

If something is freely online is it in the public domain?

No, it likely still has some sort of copyright protection. YouTube videos, blog posts, and even your class notes are automatically protected by copyright. That protection lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years! It's good practice to assume items you're using - whether print, audio, or video - have copyright protection.

Why Read About Copyright?

Copyright law is like traffic law. If you drive a car, you need to understand the basics of traffic law. If you create or use copyrighted works (texts, images, videos, music, etc.), you also need to understand the basics of copyright! Each person is responsible if they infringe on someone else's copyright (Title 17 U.S. Code). It's especially important for educators to understand copyright law, since we use copyrighted works in the classroom every day! This page introduces you to some general guidelines to help you legally use copyright protected works.



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