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Copyright Basics

This guide provides information about using copyrighted materials in the online and face-to-face classroom. Disclaimer: This guide is intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice.

Copyright Policy

BTC Copyright Policy





Copyright Policy (draft)


Page 1 of 3








Vice President of Instructional Services, Library Director


RCW 4.24.490

RCW 28B.10.842

Title 17 US Code §107


All Employees







It is the intent of Bellingham Technical College that all members of the College community adhere to (follow) the provisions of the United States Copyright Law (Title 17, United States Code, Sect. 101 et seq.).  Bellingham Technical College recognizes the Copyright Act of 1976 and subsequent amendments including Guidelines for Off-the-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming for Education Purposes,  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, and The TEACH Act, which grants authors, publishers and creators control over the copying, distribution, and performance of their original works. Bellingham Technical College recognizes the importance of the Fair Use doctrine (Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976); all staff and faculty shall be responsible for acquainting themselves with its provisions so that the guidelines are followed when copying is done.


The doctrine of Fair Use (section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law) permits the use of materials for nonprofit, educational purposes without permission under certain conditions. The Fair Use Doctrine does not guarantee protection from lawsuits, but good faith efforts may mitigate fines and damages.  It is a balance to see if each individual use tips to fair use or not.




Am I within the limits of Fair Use?


Consider these four factors for determining Fair Use


1.     The purpose and character of work. How and why will it be used? Classroom instruction is usually okay, but public presentation may not be. Does the use support learning outcomes?

2.     The nature of the copyrighted work. Use of informational (nonfiction) works is more likely to be considered fair use—creative works may not. Publications intended for classroom consumptions, i.e. workbooks, may not be copied without permission from the rights holder.

3.     The amount and substantiality of the portion of the work used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.  The amount copied should not be a substantial portion of the work.

4.     The effect of the use in question upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.


For a checklist to help you determine and apply Fair Use, click here





Copyright Policy (draft)

Page 2 of 3




Fair Use examples:

·         You may copy a single copy of any of the following, either for your own research, for use in teaching or preparing to teach a class or to place on reserve in the library: a chapter from a book, an article from a periodical or newspaper, a short story, short essay or poem, a chart, graph, diagram drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

·         You may make multiple copies (not more than one copy per student in a course) of the following materials for classroom use:

o    Illustration – one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue.

o    Prose – a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 works; a 1,000 word excerpt, or 10% of a longer work.

o    Poetry – a complete poem is less than 250 words and if printed on not more than 2 pages; an excerpt from a longer poem not to exceed 250 words.

·         You may do the above provided that…

o    You include a notice of copyright

o    You absolutely don’t have the time to wait for permission

o    You use the material for only one course in one school

·         You may not repeatedly copy same item from term to term without permission.

·         Cannot substitute for the purchase of books, publisher’s reprints or periodicals.

·         Guidelines for Off-Air Recording of Broadcast Programs for Educational Purposes

o    Applies only to non-profit educational institutions

o    Broadcast programs are television programs transmitted for reception by the general public without charge. Channels such HBO and Showtime do not fit into this category.

o    Off-air recording can be used once as part of a relevant teaching activity and maybe be repeated once only as instructional reinforcement during the first 10 consecutive school days.

o    After 45 school days, the recordings must be erased or destroyed.

o    Off-air recordings cannot be combined or merged into an electronic teaching anthology; the entire recording does not need to be used.

o    Off-air copies must include the copyright notice on the broadcast program.

·         TEACH Act Guidelines for the duplication and distribution of digitally transmitted material

o    These guidelines apply only to instructors. There are different guidelines for the Institution, Information Technology officials and Librarians.

o    Works allowed are limited to:

§  Performance of non-dramatic literary or musical works

§  Performance of any other work, including dramatic, but only in “reasonable and limited portions”

§  Displays of any work “comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session.”

o    Works not allowed:

§  Works marketed “primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks” such as Angel.

§  Any work not “lawfully made and acquired.”

o    The instructor is in charge of the uses of copyrighted works and must follow the following requirements:

§  The performance or display “is made by, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of an instructor”



Copyright Policy (draft)

Page 3 of 3




§  The materials are in integral part of a class session ordered as a regular part of the systematic, mediated instructional activities.”

§  The copyrighted materials are “directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission.”

§  Cannot include copies of materials that are specifically marketed for and meant to be used by students outside of the classroom in traditional teaching.

o    Converting analog materials to digital formats is prohibited except under the following circumstances:

§  The exact material converted to digital format is within the scope of materials and “portion” limitations permitted under the new law.

§  When digital versions are not available to the institution or are technologically protected from distribution.



How to obtain permission to copy


Model permission letters, click here


For Course Packs, contact the BTC Bookstore. They will assist you in obtaining permissions