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Copyright Resources

PCC Policies on Copyright and Copyright Ownership

Pima Community College requires faculty, staff and administrators to obey federal copyright law. Detailed copyright information is contained in the standard practice guide Copyright Practice and Compliance, SPG-2701/AA

The standard practice guide covers a wide range of topics including:

  • Requirements related to multiple copies made for classroom use
  • Creating course packets
  • Using “consumables”  (i.e. workbooks, tests)
  • Using online resources

The PCC Copyright Committee has created a short, informative video on copyright compliance and the use of Pima's Copyright Fair Use Checklist:  view video | read video transcript.

PCC employees retain certain rights to works they create while working for the College; see Board of Governors Policy BP-2702 and RG-2702/A for details

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection for authors of original works. Its purpose is to foster creative expression by promoting "the progress of science and useful arts" (U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8). Any original expression is automatically copyright protected as soon as it is fixed in a tangible form (paper, computer file, video recording, etc.).

Neither publication nor registration is essential for a work to be copyright protected, e.g., most of the material available on the Internet is copyright protected, even if no © notice or warning is displayed. Copyright protection may apply to text, photographs, graphics, cartoons, music, movie clips, etc., as found on the Internet.

What is Fair Use?

The fair use doctrine of the Copyright Act permits reproduction and other uses of copyrighted works without the permission of the owner of the work under certain conditions for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship and research. Fair use depends on a reasoned and balanced application of four factors:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether it is for commercial or nonprofit educational purposes
  2. the nature of the copyrighted material
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the whole
  4. the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted material

Weighing the fair use factors is often difficult and at times subjective.  In general, fair use only permits use of small parts of copyrighted materials during a limited period of time. To evaluate Copyright Fair Use for your course, utilize Pima Community College’s Copyright Fair Use Checklist.  A video is provided containing an overview of key copyright compliance issues and how to use the checklist:  view video | read video transcript.

Providing Notice to Students

Faculty are responsible for making students aware of copyright issues. The following Notice to Students should be placed:

  1. On the first course web page that students see when they log into D2L
  2. Prominently in the course syllabus
  3. Prominently in the course reading list if it is a separate document from the syllabus.

Notice to Students: Using Copyrighted Materials

Most of the instructional materials you will use in this course are copyright protected. Unless you buy the materials, you cannot download or copy them without the written permission of your instructor or the publisher of the materials.

That includes websites you visit when completing assigned course work. Websites usually contain copyright protected material. Your visit to a website cannot include unauthorized downloading or copying, or attempts to bypass any security on the site or any payment system on the site.

Please understand that there are serious penalties for the unauthorized copying or downloading of copyright protected materials. If you aren’t sure whether you can copy or download materials, please ask your instructor or a librarian.

Copyright & TEACH Act Information

  • U.S. Copyright Office: Information on the basics of U.S. copyright law, a summary of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and information on how to register a copyright.
  • North Carolina State University's TEACH Act Toolkit: Straightforward and practical guidance on both the TEACH Act and fair use in the digital environment, including guidelines, checklists, a glossary and the TEACH Act's full text.

Creative Commons & Public Domain Materials

There are many open access web-based resources that are either in the public domain or available through a Creative Commons license

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a great tool to use when looking for items to use in the classroom. But first you must understand what Creative Commons is and how it works. 

  • Creative Commons is a license for many works, songs, videos, images and other digital materials. It is a great resource for academic institutions as the works allow for use in a (non-profit institution’s) classroom as long as credit is given to the work.
  • Creative Commons has six licenses. The most restrictive license allows the use of the work for non-commercial purposes, as long as credit is provided for the work. The most lenient license will allow you to “distribute, remix, tweak and build upon the original work” provided credit is given. To see more about Creative Commons Licenses and how they differ, see About CC licenses.
  • To search for Creative Commons works, start here: CC Search. (If using for PCC purposes uncheck the box next to “use for commercial purposes.”)

Public Domain

The PCC Library has developed a listing of web sites containing copyright-free graphics or containing graphics that can be used for educational purposes. In addition, faculty may find the following website helpful:

  • Is it Protected by Copyright?: An online “digital slider” from the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy. It offers guidance based on the date of first publication of a given title.


Additional questions or concerns about copyright?
 Contact your administrative supervisor.