Copyright Infringement

It is Tufts University’s policy to respect copyrights and to duplicate or reproduce copyrighted materials only as allowed by law or by special agreement.

Copyright is a form of protection that the law provides to the creators of “original works of authorship . . . fixed in any tangible medium of expression, both published and unpublished.” (Title 17, United States Code).

Copyright is generally owned by the author of the work, unless the work qualifies as a work for hire under the copyright law, unless the copyright has expired, or unless the author has assigned his or her rights in the work to another person or organization.

Examples of works protected by the copyright law include books, journals, videos, musical recordings, photographs, paintings, dramatic works, and software.  Reproduction of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright owner is a violation of the Copyright Act and a violation of University policy unless the reproduction was one allowed under the Doctrine of Fair Use.

Fair use does sometimes allow reproduction of a copyrighted article for the purpose of criticism, comment, scholarship, or research.  Considerations for determining whether such a reproduction constitutes fair use include:

  • character of use (nonprofit as opposed to commercial);
  • nature of the work;
  • amount and substantiality of the portion used; and,
  • effect of the use on the value or commercial market of the work.

A more detailed presentation of the University’s fair use policy can be found at http://sites.tufts.edu/scholarlycommunication/?page_id=176.  Copyright permission should never be assumed.  According to Copyright Office document FL102, “The safest course is always to obtain permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material.”

Tufts University respects the ownership of material governed by copyright laws.  All members of the University community are expected to comply with the copyright laws and with the provisions of the licensing agreements that apply to software, printed and electronic materials and all other copyrighted works licensed by the University or accessible over the University’s network or in its libraries.  Individual author, publisher, patent holder, and manufacturer agreements are to be reviewed for specific stipulations.

Members of the Tufts University community who use copyrighted materials without permission, in connection with their work for Tufts or through use of university resources (including unauthorized downloading or sharing of music, video or software files), are subject to disciplinary action, among other possible penalties. If the university is notifed by a copyright owner, publisher, distributor, or law enforcement agency of possible infringement, the university may direct an investigation, require the violator(s) to correct any infringement, and impose disciplinary action on the responsible parties.

     
 
Questions & Answers
Question: Can I ever use a copyrighted work without permission of the copyright holder?
 Answer: There are indeed instances where copyrighted works may be used without the permission of the copyright holder, but each instance must be evaluated individually.  Photocopying is a particularly relevant area addressed under fair use.  Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976 and the cases which have interpreted its provisions, copyright permission is not required for the following:

  • single copies for personal or scholarly use;
  • one-time placement of an article on library reserve;
  • materials not under copyright protection, e.g., most U.S. government documents and works whose copyright has expired; or
  • multiple copies for classroom use, so long as they meet “fair use” standards for brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect.

Question:I use a spreadsheet application in my work at the University. Would it be considered a violation of Tufts policy if I copied the program disks and gave them to a colleague to use in another University personal computer?

 

 Answer:

Yes, unless a special arrangement has been made between the University and the publisher (such as procurement of a multiuser license), one licensed copy of a software product must be obtained for every computer upon which it is run.

 

Question:

Do exceptions exist with regard to the copyright law for software?

 

 Answer:

The only general exception concerns the user’s right to make a backup copy for archival purposes.