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Copyright Resources

In the News - Copyright Today

International News

Marrakesh Treaty

  • The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013 in Marrakesh, Morocco.
  • It forms part of the body of international copyright treaties administered by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
  • Its purpose is to "facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled" (WIPO, 2016).
  • Why it matters: 
    • An estimated 4 million blind and other “print disabled” people in the U.S. alone as well as tens of millions more around the world would have access to published works (American Library Association, 2016). 

National News


  • HathiTrust partners with major research institutions and libraries to "ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future" (HathiTrust, 2016).
  • In recent news, HathTrust Digital Library collaborated with the National Federation of the Blind to make more than 14 million digital books available to blind and print-disabled users.
  • Additionally, extensive reviews using the Copyright Review Management System (CMRS) were completed earlier in 2016, for which over 18 thousand works were determined to be in the public domain and will be added to HathiTrust.
Fair Use Cases

Why they matter: 

  • Fair use prevailed in these cases (below), and thus the balance has shifted in recent years to the beneficiaries, rather than the creators, of copyrighted works. These significant fair use cases offer reassurance to those who reuse, remix, and build upon copyrighted works (i.e. the general public, or really, just about everyone) by encouraging others to exercise the basic freedoms promised to them by the fair use doctrine.
  • Copyright is a balancing act between the creators of content and the users of that same content. Without fair use, copyright law would be unconstitutional, and therefore, it is a right that, when exercised, progresses the sciences and useful arts, as expressed in the U.S. Constitution

Google Books Court Case

  • The Author's Guild (AG) sued Google over its scanning of tens of millions of copyrighted books. 
  • Google argued that the scanning was fair use, because only limited portions of text are available for viewing. (The entire works are dark-archived). 
  • After a ten-year legal battle, the Second Circuit ruled in favor of Google.
  • AG filed an appeal which was refused by the Supreme Court in April 2016, leaving the appeals court decision in place.
  • Why it matters: 
    • Google used transformative fair use and technology as its vehicle to accomplish its purpose of making texts easily searchable, and thus, it has opened up doors for others to transform copyrighted works using technology. 

Georgia State Court Case

  • The publishers Cambridge, Sage, and Oxford sued Georgia State for copyright infringement of their textbooks used within electronic course reserves within online management systems.
  • The district court found only five of the 99 cases were infringing on the publishers' copyrights.
  • Originally, the court found more infringements using the arithmetic approach to applying fair use (e.g. the-ten-percent-or-one-chapter-rule). 
    • The Eleventh Circuit rejected this bright line rule and determined that fair use decisions must be conducted on a case-by-case basis.
  • The publishers have filed a second appeal.
  • Why it matters:
    • Fair use decisions have been determined to not be straight-forward in non-profit educational settings; they are complicated. 
    • The amount (or the third factor in fair use) that can be used is determined by the one reusing the copyrighted material and the amount used should be only the amount required to achieve the stated, socially-beneficial purpose or objective, not an arithmetically calculated amount. 
    • While fair use decisions in non-profit educational settings are not straight-forward, they are assuredly more low-risk than before the Georgia State court case.
      • The decisions in this case (presumably) discourage potential law suits against academic institutions and libraries.
    • See this blog post for more information.

"Dancing Baby" Case

  • Stephanie Lenz posted a 29 second video of her toddler dancing to a Prince song. 
  • YouTube informed Lenz that it had removed her video due to a take-down notice from Universal Studios 
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) partnered with Lenz and filed suit against Universal asking a federal judge to uphold fair use.
  • In 2015, an Appeals Court affirmed that copyright owners must consider fair use before issuing take-down notices.M
  • Why it matters: 
    • Misuse of copyright law in the form of bogus online copyright claims has largely been overlooked
    • Copyright owners now have to consider fair use before claiming copyright infringement or be liable for damages
    • This case helps protect the fair use doctrine and promotes freedom of speech
    • Prevents "thoughtless censorship of lawful speech" (EFF, 2015).

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Resources At K-State

K-State Intellectual Property Policy
This document describes Kansas State University's policies and associated institutional procedures for intellectual property.

Kansas Board of Regents Policy & Procedures Manual
Intellectual Property Policy from the Kansas Board of Regents.

K-State's DMCA agent
Contact information for the individual designated to receive notification of claims of copyright infringement.

Illegal File Sharing at K-State
Sharing and downloading copyrighted music, movies, and games from the Internet without proper authorization is considered piracy-a violation of federal copyright laws and K-State policy.

K-State Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File Sharing Policy
The purpose of this policy is to articulate Kansas State University's position on the use of Peer-to-Peer file sharing applications and the unauthorized acquisition or distribution of copyrighted or licensed material.

K-State Course Syllabi Copyright Statement
These Course Syllabi statements are provided by the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President. The Copyright Statement can be found under "Optional Syllabi Statements".

Showing Films at K-State
Guidelines for student organizations wanting to show films publicly on campus.

Policy on the Use of Copyrighted Works in Education and Research
Policy setting forth K-State's position on the use of copyrighted works in education and research, meeting the requirements of the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization ("TEACH") Act of 2002's safe harbor provision.

Using Media in the Classroom
Instructors often wish to use media, such as films and music, in the classroom. This guide provides more information on using media in the classroom.

Books at Hale Library

Cite Right, Second Edition, A Quick Guide to Citation Styles: MLA, APA, Chicago, the Sciences, Professions, and More, University of Chicago Press, 2011. PN171.F56 L55 2011 (Hale Library Stacks)

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Other Resources

U.S. Copyright Law

U.S.Copyright Office
The site where you can register your copyrights, renew copyrights, search copyright records, and learn more about copyright law.

Reusing Content 

Cite it Right
This product of University of Texas at San Antonio, guides users through MLA, APA, Chicago, and other citation styles.

Copyrightability of Tables, Charts, and Graphs
This resource from the University of Michigan explains how to determine whether tables, charts, and graphs have copyright protection.

The next two resources are the same guide, but one is an infographic while the other is a text-based document that outlines the steps with more details, links, and resources. 

Guide to Analyzing Any U.S. Copyright Problem Infographic 
This infographic can help you analyze any copyright problem when it comes to reusing content, and it will help guide you through an appropriate solution for your individual needs. For a more in-depth look at the guide, see the next resource (below).  

Guide to Analyzing Any U.S. Copyright Problem 
This is the framework originally created by Kevin Smith and Lisa Macklin with some revisions added for the K-State community.

Public Domain

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the U.S. - Reference Table 
An excellent reference table for figuring out if a work is in the public domain and if it isn't, the table also provides the length of the copyright term.

List of Resources for Finding Items in the Public Domain
This list is provided by the Public Domain Review, an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas.

What is the Public Domain (2:10) 

Ever wonder what Public Domain content is? Have you ever wondered what your usage rights are regarding Public Domain items in your own productions? Good, then this video is for you!

Licensing and Open Access

Creative Commons
A non-profit organization that works to increase the amount of scholarly works (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons" — the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing.

Science Commons
A Creative Commons project "meant to lift legal and technical barriers to research and discovery".

"The Beauty of Some Rights Reserved: An introduction to Copyright, Publishing and Creative Commons
Molly Kleinman's presentation on copyright during Open Access Week 2010.

Fair Use

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries
This code of best practices addresses such scenarios as reserves, preservation digitization, and reproduction of materials for use by disabled users.

Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis: Ownership, Fair Use, and Your Rights and Responsibilities
An excellent guide to copyright issues typically encountered in graduate research.

Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Collections Containing Orphan Works
This statement of best practices provides a pragmatic approach for libraries, archives, and other memory institutions for using fair use when including orphan works in large digital collections.

Fair use Without Fear in the Academy 
The lead presenters are Peter Jaszi and Brandon Butler of American University's Washington College of Law.  The presenters describe the growth of the fair use doctrine and the ways that communities, including scholars, are taking advantage of their fair use rights to get things done.

A Fair(y) Use Tale (NOT a Disney movie)

Humorus, informative tale of copyright created by Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University.

Investigating the Status of Copyright Holders

How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work
This is Circular 22 from the U.S. Copyright Office. It provides information on methods used to investigate the status of a copyrighted work, which can often become complex and murky. 

The WATCH File
Writers Artists and Their Copyright Holders is a database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in other creative fields. It can help you discover copyright holders of items as well as their contact information.

Orphan Works: Statement of Best Practices 
This is a statement of best practices for tracking down copyright holders and the reasonable efforts necessary to do so.