Skip to main content

Copyright Center: Copyright Policy

Quick Links

Contact Information

Address:  1000 Galvin Road South

Bellevue, NE  68005

Phone:  402-557-7305


Copyright Policy

 It is the intent of Bellevue University that all members of the University community adhere to the provisions of the United States Copyright Law (Title 17, United States Code, Sect. 101, et seq.) 1980 Patent Law, and Off-Air Guidelines. The following policy statements and guidelines constitute a manual for anyone at the University who wishes to reproduce, alter, or perform works that are protected by copyright. Since copyright protection applies to a variety of creative works — printed materials, sound recordings, video recordings, visual artworks, computer software, and others — this policy has been constructed to address issues related to particular types of media.

 What Copyright Is

 Copyright is a form of legal protection for authors of original works, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual products. Publication is not essential for copyright protection, nor is the well known symbol ©, however, pre-1976 works must be published and be identified as copyrighted in order to have copyright protection. Section 106 of the Copyright Act (90 Statute 2541) generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  1. Reproduce copies of the work.
  2. Prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work.
  3. Distribute copies of the work by sale, rental, lease, or lending.
  4. Publicly perform the work (if it is a literary, musical, dramatic, or choreographic work or a pantomime, motion picture or audiovisual work).
  5. Publicly display the work (if it is a literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, sculptural, graphic, or pictorial work — including the individual images of a film — or a pantomime).

The copyright owner retains these rights even when the work itself belongs to someone else. However, the rights are not absolute. They are subject to "Fair Use" limitations, which apply to all media, and medium-specific limitations.

Fair Use

The doctrine of fair use, embedded in section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, addresses the needs of scholars and students by mitigating the rights of copyright ownership. However, what constitutes fair use is expressed in the form of guidelines rather than explicit rules. To determine fair use, consider the following four factors [from What Educators Should Know About Copyright, by Virginia M. Helm; Bloomington, IN, Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation, 1986]:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether the copied material will be for nonprofit, educational, or commercial use. This factor at first seems reassuring; but unfortunately for educators, several courts have held that absence of financial gain is insufficient for a finding of fair use.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work, with special consideration given to the distinction between a creative work and an informational work. For example, photocopies made of a newspaper or newsmagazine column are more likely to be considered a fair use than copies made of a musical score or a short story. Duplication of material originally developed for classroom consumption is less likely to be a fair use than is the duplication of materials prepared for public consumption. For example, a teacher who photocopies a workbook page or a textbook chapter is depriving the copyright owner of profits more directly than if copying one page from the daily paper.
  3. The amount, substantiality, or portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. This factor requires consideration of 1) the proportion of the larger work that is copied and used, and 2) the significance of the copied portion.
  4. The effect of the use on the potential market of the copyrighted work. This factor is regarded... as the most critical one in determining fair use; and it serves as the basic principle from which the other three factors are derived and to which they are related. If the reproduction of a copyrighted work reduces the potential market and sales and, therefore, the potential profits of the copyright owner, that use is unlikely to be found a fair use.

Printed Materials:

Works that May be Used Freely 

Occasionally, scholarly publications such as journal articles include a note offering the right to copy for educational purposes.

Some categories of publications are in the public domain; that is, their use is not protected by copyright law:

  1. Publications dated 1922 or earlier.
  2. Works that do not include a copyright notice and were first published before January 1, 1978.
  3. Most United States government documents.

Once a work has acquired public domain status it is no longer eligible for copyright protection.



  1. Single Copies for Scholarly Needs or Library Reserve
  • A chapter of a book.
  • A newspaper or periodical article.
  • A short story, short essay, or short poem.
  • A chart, diagram, drawing, graph, cartoon, or picture
  1. Multiple Copies for Classroom Use (must meet the following tests of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect. Each copy must also include prominent notice that it is copyrighted material).
  • Brevity

*  Prose: Either (1) a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, or (2) an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less, but in any event an excerpt of up to 500 words.

Poetry: (1) A complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages, or (2) an excerpt of not more than 250 words.

(Each of the numerical limits above may be expanded to permit the completion of an unfinished prose paragraph or line of a poem.)

Illustration: One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or periodical issue.

Special Works: Certain works in poetry or prose or in "poetic prose", which may combine language with illustrations and which fall short of 2,500 words, may not be reproduced in their entirety. However, an excerpt comprising not more than two of the published pages of such a work, and containing not more than 10% of the words found in the text, may be reproduced.

  • Spontaneity

The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual instructor.

The inspiration and decision to use the work and the moment of its use for maximum teaching effectiveness are so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.

  • Cumulative Effect

The copying of the material is for only one course, with no more than one copy per student in the course.

Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during a term.

  • Course Packets

Copyright litigation involving academic users has focused on these "anthologies", which are perceived as substituting for textbooks and thus as reducing the potential market for copyrighted publications. Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited:

* Copying shall not be used to create or to replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works. Such replacement or substitution may occur whether copies of various works or excerpts therefrom are accumulated or reproduced and used separately.

* There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or of teaching. These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets and like consumable material.

* Copying shall not:

                  1. substitute for the purchase of books, publishers' reprints or periodicals,

                  2. be directed by higher authority, or

                  3. be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.

* No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.

      3.  Photocopies Obtained Through Interlibrary Loan

Section 108(d) of the Copyright Law of 1976 specifies that a library may copy "no more than one article or other contribution to a copyrighted collection or periodical issue, or to . . . a small part of any other copyrighted work." The copy must become the property of the requestor, and its use is limited to "private study, scholarship, or research."

Interlibrary Loan activities are further restricted in the aggregate by the "CONTU Guidelines", which cap the amount of photocopying the ILL office can request for the College community in any calendar year. The thrust of the "Guidelines" is to quantify the maximum number of photocopied articles -- five -- that can be requested from the most recent five years of a periodical the library does not subscribe to. The "CONTU Guidelines" are available in the Interlibrary Loan office. Individuals requesting copies in excess of the CONTU allowance may be asked to pay a royalty or the fee necessary to obtain such copies commercially.

The Interlibrary Loan office is legally obligated to display prominently the following notice and to include the same text on all request forms:


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

  1. Library Reserve Services

Since library reserve services function as classroom adjuncts, the "Guidelines for Multiple Copies for Classroom Use" [pp. 4-5] are relevant. However, these guidelines address the practice of distributing photocopies to every course participant. Furthermore, the quantities specified for amount of text and total instances of photocopying constitute the minimum permitted by copyright law. Consequently, many academic reserve services adopt policies that seek to blend the spirit of the "Guidelines" with the criteria for fair use.

   5.   Electronic Reserve

Opinion is divided on whether copyrighted materials may be digitized without permission or payment of royalty fees. The publishing community apparently has not objected to reserve collections that have adhered closely to the American Library Association guidelines for photocopying because no litigation, complaints, articles, or challenges have appeared. BU assumes that the library may scan a work — a type of reproduction — and deliver that scanned copy to students enrolled in a course for the duration of the course. The Library will not store the scanned copy for use in subsequent courses without permission of the copyright holder.

 Access to electronic reserves will be restricted to students registered in the class. Students will gain access to copyrighted electronic reserve material through the course Web page. User authentication will be required for copyrighted materials.

 Such use of copyrighted materials are assumed to fall within the U.S. Copyright Fair Use Guidelines in the absence of any legal guidance or a consensus among the publishing community and the library community.

 Audiovisual Materials:

 Classroom Use

Possession of a film or video does not confer the right to show the work. The copyright owner specifies, at the time of purchase or rental, the circumstances in which a film or video may be "performed". For example, videocassettes from a video rental outlet usually bear a label that specifies "Home Use Only". However, whatever their labeling or licensing, use of these media is permitted in an educational institution so long as certain conditions are met.

 Section 110 (1) of the Copyright Act of 1976 specifies that the following is permitted:

Performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction,unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work,the performance or display of individual images is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made...and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was  not lawfully made.

Additional text of the Copyright Act and portions of the House Report (94-1476) combine to provide the following, more detailed list of conditions [from Virginia M. Helms, supra]:

  1. They must be shown as part of the instructional program.
  2. They must be shown by students, instructors, or guest lecturers.
  3. They must be shown either in a classroom or other school location devoted to instruction such as a studio, workshop, library, gymnasium, or auditorium if it is used for instruction.
  4. They must be shown either in a face-to-face setting or where students and teacher(s) are in the same building or general area.
  5. They must be shown only to students and educators.
  6. They must be shown using a legitimate (that is, not illegally reproduced) copy with the copyright notice included.

 Further, the relationship between the film or video and the course must be explicit. Films or videos, even in a "face-to-face" classroom setting, may not be used for entertainment or recreation, whatever the work’s intellectual content.

 Copying Videotapes/Off-Air Recording of Broadcasts, Including Satellite TV

Copying videotapes without the copyright owner's permission is illegal. An exception is made for libraries to replace a work that is lost or damaged if another copy cannot be obtained at a fair price [Section 108 of the Copyright Act of 1976].

Licenses may be obtained for copying and off-air recording. Absent a formal agreement, "Guidelines for Off-the-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming for Educational Purposes", an official part of the Copyright Act's legislative history, applies to most off-air recording [from Virginia M. Helms, supra]:

  1. Videotaped recordings may be kept for no more than 45 calendar days after the recording date, at which time the tapes must be erased.
  2. Videotaped recordings may be shown to students only within the first 10 school days of the 45-day retention period.
  3. Off-air recordings must be made only at the request of an individual instructor for instructional purposes, not by staff in anticipation of later requests.
  4. The recordings are to be shown to students no more than two times during the 10-day period, and the second time only for necessary instructional reinforcement.
  5. The taped recordings may be viewed after the 10-day period only by instructors for evaluation purposes, that is, to determine whether to include the broadcast program in the curriculum in the future.
  6. If several instructors request videotaping of the same program, duplicate copies are permitted to meet the need; all copies are subject to the same restrictions as the original recording.
  7. The off-air recordings may not be physically or electronically altered or combined with others to form anthologies, but they need not necessarily be used or shown in their entirety.
  8. All copies of off-air recordings must include the copyright notice on the broadcast program as recorded.
  9. These guidelines apply only to nonprofit educational institutions, which are further expected to establish appropriate control procedures to maintain the integrity of these guidelines.

Certain public broadcasting services (Public Broadcasting Service, Public Television Library, Great Plains National Instructional Television Library, and Agency for Instructional Television) impose similar restrictions but limit use to only the seven-day period following local broadcast [Virginia M. Helms, supra].

 Sound Recordings:

Cassettes or disks may not be copied unless replacement recordings from a commercial source cannot be obtained at a fair price. Recording brief excerpts is considered fair use, however.

 Educational Multimedia Fair Use:

Key elements of the Educational Multimedia Fair Use Guidelines are summarized here. The Guidelines specify how much of copyright-protected sources may be included in multimedia products prepared by students or faculty members for course-related work. Use of larger portions requires permission from copyright owners. Creators of multimedia products may prepare a total of three copies, one of which is for preservation and replacement purposes only. One of the copies may be placed on Library Reserve. An exception is allowed for joint projects: each principal creator may retain a copy. Fair Use status expires two years after the first instructional use of a particular multimedia product.

  1. Motion Media - Up to 10% or 3 minutes of a source, whichever is less
  2. Text - Up to 10% or 1000 words of a source, whichever is less. An entire poem of less than 250 words, but no more than 3 poems or excerpts by one poet. No more than 5 poems or excerpts from one anthology.
  3. Music, Lyrics, Music Video - Up to 10% but not more than 30 seconds total from an individual work.
  4. Illustrations, Photographs - No more than 5 images by one artist or photographer. No more than 10% or 15 images, whichever is less, from any single published work.
  5. Numerical Data Sets - Up to 10% or 2500 fields or cell entries, whichever is less.
  6. Internet Sources - Though it can be difficult to determine what is copyright protected and what is in the public domain, the multimedia creator is responsible for adhering to copyright law.
  7. Opening Screen Notice

"Certain materials are included under the fair use exemption of U.S. Copyright Law and have been prepared according to the educational multimedia fair use guidelines and are restricted from further use." Credit the sources and display the copyright notice and copyright ownership information if shown in the original source. Crediting the source must adequately identify the source of the work, giving a full bibliographic description where available (including author, title, publisher, and place and date of publication). The copyright notice includes the word "Copyright" or the copyright symbol, the name of the copyright holder, and the year of first publication.

  1. Integrity of Sources

Any alterations of copyrighted items must be noted.

Computer Software:

Bellevue University negotiates site licenses with software vendors whenever possible for software products that are selected for extensive use, since these arrangements provide the University community with efficient access to computer programs that support the curriculum while assuring the copyright owner a fair royalty.

Software products that are not licensed to the University may also be used. However, copying is strictly limited except for backup purposes. Whether the software is transferred from the original to a hard disk or to an archival diskette, the backup copy is not to be used at all so long as the other copy is functional.

Libraries are permitted to lend software, but only for temporary use, not for copying. If the borrower transfers the software to a hard disk, the program must be deleted when the borrowed item is returned.

Copyright law is acknowledged to be inadequate in relation to the complexities of software use. EDUCOM, a nonprofit organization that supports the use of technology in education, launched the EDUCOM Software Initiative, which developed a statement of principle intended for adaptation and use by individual colleges and universities. It is here reproduced in full:

The EDUCOM Code:  Software and Intellectual Rights

Respect for intellectual labor and creativity is vital to academic discourse and enterprise. This principle applies to works of all authors and publishers in all media. It encompasses respect for the right to acknowledgment, right to privacy, and right to determine the form, manner, and terms of publication and distribution.

Because electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced, respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasion of privacy, unauthorized access, and trade secret and copyright violations, may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community.


Adapted from:  Wellesley College, “Copyright Policy”, 8 April 2002, <> (September 24, 2002).

 Adapted from:  Florida Gulf Coast University, “Information on Copyright Policies”, 2002, <> (September 24, 2002).