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Copyright Resources

PCC Policies on Copyright

Pima Community College requires faculty, staff and administrators to comply with federal copyright law. College procedures cover 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

See Board of Governors Policy BP 6.05: Copyright, and  Administrative Procedure AP 6.05.01 Copyright Practice and Compliance.

PCC employees retain certain rights to works they create while working for the College (Board of Governors Policy BP 6.06: Intellectual Property Ownership, Administrative Procedure AP 6.06.01: Intellectual Property Ownership.)

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection for authors of original works intended 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.). Copyright protection may apply to text, photographs, graphics, cartoons, music, movie clips, etc., in print and digital formats. Generally, copyright provides the author control of the use, alteration, copying, distribution, performance, and sale of the work.Neither publication nor registration is essential for a work to be copyright protected, even if no © notice or warning is displayed.

Copyright Infringement and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

Copyright infringement is serious! Learn the penalties for unauthorized distribution of copyright material including unauthorized use of filesharing programs.  Find legal sources of graphics, multimedia and other material.

What is Fair Use?

The Fair Use doctrine permits reproduction and other uses of copyrighted works without the permission of the owner of the work under certain conditions for limited 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.

Examples of uses likely to qualify as Fair Use include:

  • quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations;
  • use of short portions of a copyright-protected material in a parody; or
  • a summary of an address or article, which may include quotations of short passages of the copyright-protected work.

Fair use does not include mass copying of material for repeated classroom use, use in a commercial activity, use that results in profit, entertainment as opposed to educational use, or use that does not give credit to the original author.

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 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

Instructional materials you will use in this course may be copyright protected.  Many classes have library articles and other resources purchased by the library for your course. These library materials along with open educational resources, web links to PDFs provided in the courses, and materials you purchase may be downloaded or copied for your use in the course.  You are expected to determine whether an item may be downloaded or copied. If you are uncertain about copyright protection or use, please contact your instructor or a librarian for assistance.  

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.

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.

Requesting Permission

If the use does not qualify for Fair Use, the instructor will need to request permission to use the resource.

There are two primary options for obtaining permission to use copyright-protected material: (1) contact the copyright holder directly, or (2) contact the Copyright Clearance Center (

Permission to use copyright-protected material, when required, must be obtained prior to using the material. Always obtain permission in writing (which can be in an email). College personnel must retain a copy of the request and/or permission for 6 years and email a copy to:  

The time to obtain permission may vary and, it is recommended that permission be requested at least six months before the material is to be used. If permission is needed sooner, the copyright owner should be informed of this fact so that he or she has the option of responding more quickly.

If you are uncertain who owns the copyright to the work you want to use, first try contacting the author or publisher to determine ownership. Reference librarians can be helpful in finding the contact information.

The copyright holder or its agent will usually require the following information in order to provide permission:

  • Title of the material
  • Creator/author of the material
  • Publisher of the material
  • Description of material
  • ISBN or ISSN, if applicable
  • Date of publication, if applicable
  • Whether the user is a non-profit institution or an employee of a non-profit institution
  • Purpose for which you wish to reproduce the item (research, commercial, non-profit educational, for-profit educational, etc.)
  • How the material is to be reproduced (e.g., photocopied, digitized)
  • Where the reproduced material will be used or will appear and for how long

sample letter is available for your use.

If permission is denied, the material must not be reproduced. Not receiving an answer to a copyright request does not authorize use. Silence should not be deemed permission.

Royalty/Permission Fees

Prior to reproducing a copyright-protected work which requires royalty fees to be paid to the copyright holder, the employee must receive permission from his or her administrative supervisor to use funds from the employee’s department.

Licenses and Contractual Agreements

The College regularly purchases licenses and agreements that include permission to use copyright-protected material in an educational context – for example, a link on a faculty member’s course page to a full-text journal article may be permissible if the College has a license which allows such access. For more information on obtaining licenses, check with the designated copyright agent.

Digital Resources


Federal law specifically addresses the use of copyrighted works in online classes: the "Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act" (TEACH Act),  17 USC §§ 110(2) and 112. Under the TEACH Act an instructor must reasonably:

  1. Limit access to copyrighted works to students currently enrolled in the class;
  2. Limit access only for the time needed to complete the class session or course;
  3. Inform instructors, students, and staff of copyright laws and policies;
  4. Prevent further copying or redistribution of copyrighted works; and
  5. Not interfere with copy protection mechanisms, like DRM (digital rights management).

With this summary in mind, there are specific aspects of the TEACH Act that are relevant to Pima Community College staff and faculty using the Pima course management system, Brightspace by D2L.

Limiting access: When using Brightspace by D2L for your CRN course shell, your course is already password-protected, limited to the students that are listed on your course roster. Additionally, your students lose access to your course five days after the term officially ends.

Copyright information: The Brightspace by D2L Homepage features a “Notice to Students” widget that offers information on students using copyrighted materials. Your course syllabus should also feature a link to the PCC Student Code of Conduct that features information on the violation of copyright laws.

Preventing the copying and redistribution of digital copyrighted works: This is the responsibility of each instructor at Pima Community College. You will need to know the copyright status of any digital files you share with your students. If any are copyright-protected, you will need to make it difficult for your students to copy and/or share any of the materials you use in your class. A recommendation: You can easily add PCC Library digital materials to your class in Brightspace by D2L. The PCC Library features article databases like “EBSCO” and video databases like “Films On Demand” and “Kanopy”.

Copyright protection mechanisms: You are advised to not remove any existing copyright protections and include all copyright notices.

Should you have further questions on the TEACH Act and how it relates to your courses in Brightspace by D2L, please contact a PCC Librarian.


TEACH Act Checklist

TEACH Act Flowchart

Duke University has created a TEACH Act flowchart that can help in the decision making.

Resources available without permission

There are many open access web-based resources that are either in the public domain or available through a Creative Commons license. You can also use resources from the PCC Library’s databases for your classes without having to request permission and the material can be used for more than one semester.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is an organization that created a series of licenses content creators can adopt to allow their works to be freely used by the public. These licenses are used for many works including songs, videos, images and other digital material.

  • The six Creative Commons licenses currently available offer varying terms of use, though all require author credit be given. To learn more about Creative Commons Licenses and how they differ, see About CC licenses. To find materials with Creative Commons licenses, search their website  at CC Search. (If using for PCC purposes uncheck the box next to “use for commercial purposes.”)

Public Domain

“The term “public domain” refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it.” (Stanford University Libraries)

To assist you in determining if something is in the public domain, this website might be 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.

While not public domain, many Creative Commons  licensed works do not need permission. There are different Creative Commons licenses, so be sure you are aware of the type of permissions and/or attributions required of the work you are using. You can find out more at Creative Commons.  

Library Resources

The College library databases contain materials that may be used for academic purposes under the rights purchased by the College. Faculty may provide students with access to the database materials by providing the students with a direct link to the material.

Images, Music, Video

The Library subscribes to article databases, but also streaming video, image and music databases. These resources can be used in your classes without requesting permission; the Library has paid the licensing fees with our subscriptions. Explore the different multimedia databases.

If the College library owns a copy of a work, the library may place that copy on reserve without obtaining copyright permission. If the library wishes to reproduce additional copies of that work and place them on reserve for students to review, in either paper or electronic format, the library must obtain copyright permission. Instructors are responsible for obtaining permission, if required, for placing non-library materials on reserve.

The library must display a copyright notice in any area where library users scan/make copies.

Photocopying and Digital Reproduction in Libraries

It is permissible to photocopy copyright-protected works in a College library without obtaining permission from the copyright owner under the following circumstances. In each instance, the necessary copyright notices and credits must be included on the photocopy. Digital reproductions may be available only on the library computer system but must not be placed on any public network.

  • Archival reproductions of unpublished works: Up to three reproductions of any unpublished work may be made for preservation or security or for deposit for research use in another library or archive.
  • Replacement of lost, damaged or obsolete copies: The College’s library may make up to three reproductions, including digital reproductions, of a published work that is lost, stolen, damaged, deteriorating or stored in an obsolete format.

Additional questions or concerns about copyright? Contact your campus library.

Frequently Asked Questions

View a list of frequently asked questions related to copyright.

Related Resources

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