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Copyright in a Nutshell

HVCC Copyright Compliance

Departments and web page authors need to be aware of how intellectual property laws, regulations, and policies apply to the online environment. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides for a limitation of liability for infringement of copyright laws by users of computing resources at institutions of higher education.

The TEACH Act expands scope of works educators may perform and display in distance education setting.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) includes provisions that are designed to reduce the illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing.

When the college is notified that someone on the college network is distributing a copyrighted file without authorization, federal law requires us to take immediate action to prevent legal sanctions. Copyright infringement is an explicit violation of the College Code of Academic Ethics.

For students, the College Committee on Ethics and Conduct has jurisdiction over these cases and students are afforded due process rights under the college judicial system. A college employee who illegally shares files on an institutional computer is referred to his or her supervisor for appropriate action; if the behavior is repeated, the director of human resources is informed.

In addition to campus sanctions, a copyright holder may pursue legal action.

At A Glance:

Who Owns the Copyright?

  • The creator of a new work is the copyright owner.
  • Two or more authors working together may be joint copyright owners.
  • The copyright owner of a work made for hire is the employer.
  • Copyrights may be transferred by means of a written instrument signed by the copyright owner.
  • Institutional policies are important for clarifying or sharing rights to new works, but these policies must adhere to legal requirements.

Copyrightable Materials Can Include:

  • Literary works (can range from novels to computer programs)
  • Musical works and accompanying words
  • Dramatic works and accompanying music
  • Pantomines and choreographs
  • Pictorial, graphic & sculptural works
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • Sound recordings
  • Architectural works

Works Without Copyright Protection

  • Ideas and facts
  • Works of the U.S. government (works created by state or local gov't. may be protected.)
  • Once a copyright has expired, the work is no longer protected by copyright law and enters the public domain.