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Whether you need permission to screen a film depends on the circumstances. Teachers showing films in face-to-face classrooms don't need permission per Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act, so long as the copy of the movie being shown is a lawful copy. This exception doesn't apply to extracurricular campus events or student groups who are hosting screenings that are open to the public. Distributors of films often sell Public Performance Rights that permit public screenings. The library may have purchased Public Performance Rights along with a copy of the film. Contact a librarian to check on the rights for a specific film. If we don't own the rights, we can help you contact the rights holders and ask for permission.
Kanopy is a streaming video service with a collection of over 26,000 films. Showing Kanopy films in a group gathering or online class is permitted as long as viewers are faculty, staff, students, or visiting scholars.
Q: How much of someone else's work can I copy, perform, or display?
A: Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work, including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. While specific numbers may appear in some best practice documents, there is no legal limit on how much of someone else's work you can use. You will determine the amount as part of your four factor fair use analysis, which you can learn more about in the Fair Use tab. There are also special exceptions for teachers, which you can learn more about in the Copyright in the Classroom tab.
Q: I just want some cool pictures to illustrate my PowerPoint. What are some easy ways to find resources for which I don't have to rely on fair use or ask for permission?
A: There are two main sources of content for which you don't have to worry about copyright clearance: public domain works, and works whose licenses allow your use. Learn more about them in the Free-to-Use Resources tab.
Q: I want to mention a brand name (like Coca Cola) in my book/article/presentation. Is this allowed? Do I need to include a special symbol like © or ®?
A: This is allowed, and you don't need to include a special symbol. In the United States, you have a right to free speech--if you couldn't publish certain words, including companies or brands, that right would be severely restricted! Current copyright law no longer requires a certain symbol (like ©) to identify something that's copyrighted. Trademark law also relates to intellectual property, but it is different than copyright. If a brand is trademarked, you can't sell products under that name in a way that might cause confusion, but you can mention the brand as much as you like for commentary, criticism, or parody - no special symbol needed.
Copyright is part of intellectual property law. It gives creators exclusive rights (for a limited time) to print, copy, publish, perform, film, or record original works that they have fixed in a tangible form. Putting something in a tangible form might include publishing it on a blog or writing it in an email. Copyright specifically protects literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.
The purpose of this guide is to provide faculty, staff, and students at Oregon State University with information about copyright law and fair use. This guide is for educational purposes only. It is intended to help you make an informed decision, and should not be construed as legal advice.
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