Advice on Appropriate Use
Copyright law and guidelines depend to a great extent on individual users making their own decisions. Given the vague nature of the law, deciding what to can seem to be a subjective exercise. There are tools that can help, however.
Is the work I want to use copyright protected?
If you aren’t sure whether the work you want to copy is protected by copyright, this tool from the American Library Association can help you decide.
Is my use considered “fair use”?
Stanford has a nice web tutorial explaining the provisions of fair use, including descriptions of permitted uses for comment & criticism, and parody, plus an explanation of the "four factor test" that governs fair use. The University of Minnesota provides this Fair Use Analysis Tool, which will help you determine whether your use meets the guidelines.
I’m a professor. Is my use exempt from copyright?
Designed specifically for educational environments, this tool clarifies copyright exceptions for instructors. From the Copyright Advisory Network.
Am I breaking the law if I share digital copies of songs?
The Recording Industry of America (RIAA) explains the law on sharing music files. For more information on file sharing, see Copyright Infringement and File Sharing: What Students Need to Know.
How do I obtain permission to use a copyrighted work?
Once it has been established that a planned use of a copyrighted item is not a fair use, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder. This means contacting the copyright holder (or their agent) and requesting permission to copy or publicly display the work. Royalties may have to be paid to obtain permission. For printed works, particularly periodical articles, the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) provides this service and can be contacted directly from this site. For more information see Instructions for First-time users of the Copyright Clearance Center.
How is peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software related to copyright infringement?
It is not against the law to use a P2P file-sharing program or to share non-copyright protected materials such as your own works or works in the public domain. At the same time, P2P file sharing is the illegal distribution method most often cited in DMCA notices. If you purchase a song or a movie, you have the right to keep a copy of it on your computer for your own use. But if your computer contains P2P software, you may be sharing it with people who have not paid for it. That is copyright infringement and you can be held responsible.
Where can I find legal sources of online music, movies and other content?
Several services allow you to legally download music, software, television shows and movies. Each legal alternative has some kind of revenue: simple sales, monthly fees, or paid advertising. Educause maintains a comprehensive list of legal downloading services.
How do I report a copyright violation?
Students and staff should seek private legal counsel if they believe their copyright has been infringed upon. Infringements of copyrights owned by UST and copyright violations on UST's network should be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org.