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Copyright Laws: Media & Internet

Multimedia Fair Use Copyright Guidelines

Any copyrighted source materials used in a multimedia creation must be lawfully obtained, i.e., through purchase, gift, or license agreements. Examples: original copies of videotapes, images, books, clip art collections, and audio recordings. Time limit on the fair use of copyrighted materials is two years from completion of work. Any use beyond two years must be with written permission for each copyrighted portion incorporated into their production.The number of copies that can be made of a multimedia creation containing fair use materials is generally two, however, joint producers may each have a copy.

Portion Limits

  • Motion Media (Video) - up to 10% or three minutes, whichever is less.
  • Text - up to 10% or 1,000 words, whichever is less.
  • Poem - up to 250 words, but further limited to three poems or portions of poems by one poet; or five poems or portions of poems by different poets from an anthology.
  • Music - up to 10% or 30 seconds, whichever is less.
  • Photos and Images - up to five works from one author; up to 10% or 15 works, whichever is less, from a collection.
  • Database information - up to 10% or 2,500 fields or cell entries, whichever is less.
Sources consulted: University of Texas System, Copyright Management Center Web site; Stanford University Libraries Copyright and Fair Use Web site; Association of American Publisher's "Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia."

Internet Copyright Guidelines

  • Is E-Mail copyrighted? All the E-mail you write is copyrighted. However, E-mail is not private.
  • Can I download software and distribute it? Some software is "public domain" meaning that you can do with it what you want. Freeware, on the other hand, is for your use but it is not appropriate for you to distribute it to others. Shareware requires renumerating the author for your use but cannot be duplicated and distributed to others.
  • May I make copies of articles from electronic journals or journals received electronically? If you are an instructor making copies of articles for your students, the fair use guidelines apply. Any other copying that you do should not harm the commercial value of a work. If you are an instructor making copies of articles from print or nonprint journals for students in your class, the Fair Use Guidelines would probably apply.
Source: CYBERSPACE LAW ABSTRACTS, Larry Lessig (ed.), 1996, 97.

Fair Use

Fair Use: Definition and analysis from Stanford University

U.S. Fair Use: Official definition from the United States Copyright Office

The Digital Dilemma: National Academies Press publication exploring intellectual property in the information age

Center for Social Media: Resources, best practices and code definitions

A Fair(y) Use Tale

Law, Terms & Codes

U.S. Copyright Law: Official and complete of the United States copyright law and related laws contained in Title 17 of the U.S. Code

Copyright Law Quick Guide: Columbia University's copyright advisory site; includes sections on basic copyright, permissions and special topics

Copyright Terms and Definitions: Comprehensive list of Public Domain guidelines from Cornell University

Digital Millennium Copyright Act: The complete text of the 1998 legislation; also see the UCLA summary

Copyright Resources

TEACH Act: Copyright guidance for teachers and academic institutions

Know Your Copyrights: Resources for teachers; includes brochures, charts, and FAQ

Media (Images/Sound): Links and resources for (generally) copyright-friendly material for use in projects and presentations

Copyright Advisory Network: Resources and discussion forum for librarians, scholars, and copyright specialists

A Visit to Copyright Bay: Tutorial courtesy of the University of St. Francis

Copyright 101: Introduction to copyright from BYU

NYU Copyright LibGuide: In-depth overview of Copyright Law, Fair Use, and how to use materials as Educators