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Copyright Policy

The purpose of the following document is to state in plain English Skidmore's copyright policy as it pertains to different media and distinct uses. Any questions about interpretation or applicability of these guidelines, the application of the copyright laws to academic exercises in general, or on the mechanics of seeking permission may be referred to Marta Brunner, College Librarian, Scribner Library (x5506).The Guidelines in this document are drawn from numerous sources including existing copyright statements from Scribner Library, IT and Media Services. Statements on multimedia, digital images, and software are taken directly from the CONFU (Conference on Fair use) Interim Report of December 1996. These guidelines do not have the force of law, but are recommended minimal standards for the application of fair use. See Appendix A for a definition of Fair Use as it appears in the copyright law.

Copyright is a continually changing area of law and the guidelines for digital images, multimedia and software are only proposed guidelines and have not been endorsed by all parties. The guidelines for particular media are minimal guidelines to assist in interpreting fair use, but they are only guidelines and do not have the force of law. However, it is general legal opinion that if one conforms to these guidelines then one is unlikely to be sued for copyright infringement.

Preface  |  Print Materials  |  Video Guidelines
Music and Sound Recordings  |  Digital Images
Educational Multimedia  |  Software
Fair Use Guidelines  |  Seeking Permission
Registering Your Own Works  |  Enforcement at Skidmore

Preface - What Falls Under Copyright?

Everything is Protected

Current international law states that all original work is protected by copyright regardless of whether or not a copyright notice is attached. This includes unpublished manuscripts, news reports, public speeches, personal correspondence, photographs, graphic images, videos, computer software, and of course, published journals and monographs and any other physical expression of an idea.

To be free of copyright an author (or subsequent copyright owner) must state explicitly that the work has been placed in the public domain.

What does copyright cover or not cover?

Copyright covers the expression of an idea, but not the idea itself.

For example:

Works published (publicly distributed) more than 95 years ago may be in the public domain, depending upon whether an owner renewed the copyright. One should assume copyright or ask the Library to ascertain if the work is still under copyright.

For works published prior to 1978 the original term of copyright endures for 28 years from the date it was secured.

If the copyright of a work published before 1978 was renewed, the term endures for 95 years from the date copyright was originally secured.

If a work was published after January 1, 1978, the term of the copyright is the life of the author plus 70 years, but at least until December 31, 2002.

What rights does a copyright owner have?

Section 106 of the Copyright Act 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. 
  5. Publicly display the work. 
  6. Publicly perform copyrighted sound recordings by means of a digital audio transmission. 

These rights are not absolute and are subject to Fair Use limitations (See Appendix A) and the guidelines in Parts I through VI of this document.

Part I - Print Materials

Multiple Copies for Classroom Use

For Classroom Use, Skidmore follows the American Library Association's Model Policy Concerning College and University Photocopying for Classroom, Research, and Library Reserve Use (1982). With respect to classroom uses, the Model Policy suggests the following guidelines: 

Furthermore, copying should meet the tests of brevity and spontaneity.


Brevity as defined in the footnote is not necessarily appropriate to higher education's needs and it is generally accepted that colleges need more flexibility than the guidelines allow. 


  1. The copying is at the instance or inspiration of the individual teacher, and 
  2. 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. 
Overall, the photocopying should not have a significant detrimental impact on the market for the copyrighted work. Therefore, Prohibitions

Reserve Use

Skidmore follows the ALA Guidelines for Classroom Use in as much as our Reserves Service functions as an extension of classroom readings. These guidelines are also included in the Scribner Library Reserve Policy which is available with a sample permission form on the Library's Web Site. 

Placing Entire Works or Large Sections of a Monograph on Reserve

Sometimes a faculty member wishes to place multiple photocopies of an entire work on Reserve. 

Sheet Music

A Faculty member can copy for classroom use or to have placed on Reserves: 

Interlibrary Loan

The following section is derived from the CONTU (Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works) Guidelines. While not the law, these guidelines provide some direction for libraries to follow. They pertain only to periodicals published within 5 years of the patronâs request. For older journals, wholesale copying is not permitted and the general Fair Use Guidelines (See Appendix A) should apply. 

Part II - Video Guidelines

In Library Use

Classroom and Campus Use

Classroom use or showing of a copyrighted videotape is permissible under the following conditions: 

Off-Air Taping

Part III - Music and Sound Recordings

Unless licensed, the public performance of music, whether for educational purposes or not, is a copyright infringement. Public performance includes both the playing of a sound recording and the instrumental or voice performance of copyrighted musical work or composition.

Performances that are not an infringement include:

Part IV - Digital Images

The following guidelines are derived from the CONFU (Conference on Fair Use) Interim Reportâs draft of the Educational Fair Use Guidelines for Digital Images. The complete text of the CONFU Guidelines can be found on the Internet at:

These guidelines DO NOT apply to images acquired in digital form or to those in the public domain.

Newly Acquired Analog Visual Images

General Guidelines

Creating Thumbnail Images for Visual CatalogsCourse Compilations of Digital ImagesUse of Images for Peer Conferences and PublicationsStudent use of Digitized Images

Students may:

Pre-Existing Analog Collections

Part V - Educational Multimedia

Educational multimedia projects created under these guidelines incorporate students' or educators' original material, such as course notes or commentary, together with various copyrighted media formats including but not limited to, motion media, music, text material, graphics, illustrations, photographs and digital software which are combined into an integrated presentation. Note that other fair use guidelines such as those for off-air taping may be relevant.

General Guidelines

Student UseEducator Use

Part VI - Software

The extension of copyright law to computer software is evolving rapidly with much disagreement, most of which remains untested in the courts. The following guidelines represent conventional wisdom on software copyright, but it remains unknown whether all of these conditions could survive the rigors of a legal challenge.

Software Licenses

Some vendors require the buyer to sign a license prior to purchasing the software. If so, the license terms overrule any standard copyright conditions. The buyer must abide by all conditions of the signed license. On the other hand, unsigned "shrink wrap" licenses are of dubious legitimacy. The term "shrink wrap" derives from the common practice of printing the license terms on the outside of the envelope that contains the installation disks, accompanied by a statement that opening the envelope constitutes acceptance of the license terms.

Site licenses are almost always governed by explicit signed licenses.

General Guidelines

There is a wide range of licensing rules posted by the various publishers. The most aggressive assert the principle of authorizing only a single copy on a single computer used by a single individual. They typically forbid any transfer of the license to anyone else.

Several experts have criticized this position and argue for a less strict guideline of single user with no restriction on copies or sites. This position forms the basis for these recommendations.

Scope of Copyright Protection

Appendix A - Fair Use Guideline

(Courtesy of Cornell University Law School)

Appendix B - Seeking Permission

It is prudent to first phone the publisher to:Generally you will be asked to identify the:The copyright holder will also need the correct bibliographic information. For a book that includes author, title, publication date, publisher, ISBN, and exact portion to be copied (pages 1-150, the entire book, chapters 3-10, etc.). Once the copyright holder receives your request you will be sent an agreement to sign which must be returned with your check for the copyright permission fee.

The Association of American Publishers provides guidelines for requesting copyright permission as well as a request form that can be printed out and used to fax or mail your request.

Appendix C- Registering Your Own Works

Copyright protection exists as soon as you create an original work in a tangible form. Copyright registration is a legal formality that makes a public record of your copyright and provides several advantages to you.

Who should register copyright?

Anyone who has created an original work fixed in a tangible form of expression and wants to protect their work. No matter what form (book, video, computer software, musical score, graphic image, etc.) that original work takes, copyright laws protect it and copyright registration adds to that protection.

Why should you register copyright?

  1. Registration creates a public record of your copyright.
  2. Registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin before you can file an infringement suit in court.
  3. Registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of your copyright.
  4. Registration made within three months after publication or prior to an infringement will allow you to seek statutory damages and payment of attorney fees if your copyright is violated.
  5. Registration allows you to record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service to protect you from the importation of copyright-infringing copies.

When should you register copyright?

You can register your copyright at any time during the life of the copyright, but early registration gives you certain advantages.

If you register within three months after publication or prior to an infringement, you can seek statutory damages and payment of attorney fees if your copyright is violated. If you do not register your copyright within these time constraints, you can only collect actual damages, which may be nominal.

If you register before or within five years of publication, your registration will establish prima facie evidence of the validity of your copyright in a court of law.

Where do you register copyright?

The procedures for registering your copyright are found on the Internet at you can also print the required forms using Adobe Acrobat Reader. What you are copyrighting determines what form you use. The Internet site provides a list and description of all the available forms with instructions for printing.

If you have questions, you may speak to a copyright information specialist by calling the Copyright Office at 202-707-3000 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. If you call to order Copyright Office publications or application forms, you may leave a message 24 hours a day at 202-707-9100.

The address to use is:

U.S. Copyright Office
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue S.E.
Washington DC 20559-6000

Appendix D – Enforcement of Copyright

Regulations at Skidmore


Current international law states that all original work is protected by copyright regardless of whether or not a copyright notice is attached. This includes unpublished manuscripts, news reports, public speeches, personal correspondence, photographs, graphic images, music, videos, computer software, and of course, published journals and monographs and any other physical expression of an idea.
To be free of copyright an author (or subsequent copyright owner) must state explicitly that the work has been placed in the public domain. Any person violating copyright policies is in violation of Skidmore’s copyright policy.

Print Violations

(From U.S Copyright Office. Library of Congress. "Copyright Basics: What Works Are Protected?" June 1999)

Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. Use of the following categories of works without permission of the copyright holder will be in violation copyright law and of this policy statement. 
  1. literary works;
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most "compilations" may be registered as "literary works"; maps and architectural plans may be registered as "pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works."

Web Violations

Forgery & Misrepresentation
Just as it is possible for someone to forge a signature on a paper document, one can make it appear as though a different person created a web page. The College views such practices as a violation of this policy statement.
FTP Sites
Creating FTP sites that distribute copyrighted information such as music, images, etc. is a serious violation of this policy statement.

Response to Claimed Violations

The DMCA agent (see ‘Web’ below) or person or office receiving the infringement notification will address the suspected violation. If necessary, the violation will be reported to the appropriate authority for investigation and adjudication as follows:

For claims of infringement by: DCMA Agent
Faculty: The Dean of the Faculty
Administration & Staff: The immediate office director and supervisor.
Students: The Dean of Student Affairs for action or delegation under the Student Handbook to the Integrity Board if the violation is related to a Skidmore course or to the Social Integrity Board if the violation is related to action not connected to a Skidmore course.
Union Personnel: Human Resources Director.
All members of the College: Any member of the College who believes that improper use of web pages has violated their academic freedom may present their case to the Committee on Academic Freedoms and Rights.



When the agent to receive statutory notices about infringements under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act receives a report of suspected copyright violation, he/she will "respond expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing."

The Center for Information Technology Services (IT) will temporarily disable a user's account if it reasonably believes that the user represents a serious on-going threat to copyright violation or a violation of this policy statement.


Rev. 8/99 to accommodate copyright expiration extensions (the "Sonny Bono" law).
Rev. 9/99 to update library's role in copyright clearance for reserve items.
Rev. 10/99 to add Appendix C.
Rev. 1/2000 to add Appendix D and to replace some missing text in prior edition.
Rev. 9/2000 to correct minor typographic errors.
Rev. 10/2014 to correct web links and formatting