This site contains general information about copyright law to assist University of Tennessee faculty, staff, and students in understanding this complex area of the law. It does NOT provide legal advice. Legal advice can only be given and received in direct consultation with counsel, based upon all facts and circumstances involved in a specific instance. Faculty and staff who have questions about copyright related to their university activities should contact Frank Lancaster (865 974-3245) at the Office of the General Counsel.
Copyright is an ever-changing and ever-challenging area of the law. There are many areas in which the law is not clear. The widespread use of computer and communications technologies has added new dimensions to the production and use of copyrighted materials in educational institutions. With each new opportunity to learn in the electronic classroom comes the possibility of infringing some else’s copyright or having one’s own copyright infringed. As universities, faculty members, authors, traditional publishers, and electronic publishers develop new methods of communicating, their interests occasionally conflict. This area of the law is presently dynamic. Various groups are attempting to persuade Congress that copyright law should protect their interests. These groups do not agree on the nature and extent of this protection, however. Until they do, or until Congress takes action to change the current laws, this remains a murky area.
The purpose of this page is to help University of Tennessee faculty, staff, and students identify some of the basic concepts about copyright in general and in the educational setting in particular and to provide access to additional information. This page does not establish a new copyright policy for the University.
University of Tennessee Copyright Policies
- Policy on Patents, Copyrights, and Other Intellectual Property
Provides for faculty and staff ownership of some copyrighted work by faculty and staff members. Other work is owned by the University. Sponsored research may alter the provisions of the policy.
- Fiscal Policy Statement on Software Copyright Compliance
Statement on software copyright compliance and license agreements. Statement 05, section 135, part 01.
- Fiscal Policy Statement on Duplication and Distribution of Instructional Materials Prepared by Faculty
Statement addresses the duplication and distribution of printed instructional materials prepared by faculty for use in classes.
- Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations
Provides information about using copyrighted materials in the preparation of theses and dissertations and includes instructions for copyrighting the final work.
The following guidelines have not been officially adopted by the University of Tennessee. However, they are generally regarded as a “safe harbor” for using copyrighted material in the classroom without permission. In fact, several courts have approved of these guidelines, especially the Guidelines for Classroom Copying, and use them to analyze whether the use of copyrighted material without permission would be allowed.
- Guidelines for Interlibrary Loan
- Guidelines for Off-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming for Educational Purposes
Determining the Need for Permission to Use a Work
- “When Works Pass into the Public Domain”
- Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians
Circular 21: U.S. Copyright Office
- How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work
Circular 22: U.S. Copyright Office
Obtaining Permission to Use a Work
- Assistance in Locating Publishers and Other Copyright Holders
For help in locating publishers and other copyright holders contact the
University Libraries Reference Team
- Copyright Clearance Center
Registering Your Work for Copyright
- Copyright Registration Information
U.S. Copyright Office
- Copyright Registration for Multimedia Works
Circular 55: U.S. Copyright Office
Sources of Information on Copyright
- U.S. Copyright Office
For copyright basics. A good introduction to what copyright is, who can claim its protection, what is not protected by copyright, how to comply with various formalities of registering copyrighted materials. Information is for the general user and is not specific to educational situations.
- Cornell Law School
Copyright materials, without editorial comment or interpretation. Includes copies of the Copyright Act, Regulations, court decisions, and interpretive sources.
- University of Texas Office of General Counsel, Intellectual Property Section
A comprehensive accumulation of material and ideas on copyright law, University of Texas policy, hot issues of the day, and theories espoused by various groups. If you are not familiar with the basics of copyright law, take the “Crash Course”.This site is a good source for those who understand the basics such as what copyright protects, what fair use is, and who owns copyright. Links to a wealth of intellectual property sites on the Web.
- Stanford – Copyright Information
Primary source materials, secondary and interpretive materials, links to other sites.
- Columbia – Fair Use
- Salomon, Kenneth. Copyright Considerations in Distance Education and Technology-Mediated Instruction. Dow, Lohnes & Albertson, PLLC
- Goldstein, Paul. Copyright. 3rd edition, Little, Brown and Co.
- Nimmer, Melville B. Nimmer on copyright by Melville B. Nimmer, David Nimmer. New York : M. Bender, 1978-
The classic text and very useful for understanding the basic principles. Not as useful in the application of the principles to technology.