Copyright Goal

U.S. copyright law secure six exclusive rights to creators limited by a time period set by law for these creative works in a fixed form. Since 1978, this time period is the life of the creator + 70 years. Copyrighted work have to be affixed to a medium (recording, written, etc) in order to be covered. Ideas, facts, lists, procedures, or processes like basic math, are not covered by copyright. There are some exceptions for use of copyrighted material noted in the law in two important areas: Fair Use and Reproduction by Libraries and Archives that lay out ways copyrighted materials can be used for teaching and research in the U.S. Code.  The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH)  Act of 2002 made changes to copyright, addressing remote instruction activities in relation to copyrighted material used in such online settings. 

Copyright Holder Rights 

  • The right to make copies
  • The right to distribute copies to the public
  • The right to make derivative works (translations, adaptations, )
  • The right of public display (includes online outlets)
  • The right of public performance
  • The moral right against mutilation and misattribution (failure to credit the author as the source of a work)


Related to copyright are trademarks, defined as a word, slogan, design, symbol, or phrase that identifies the source of goods and/or services and  distinguishes them from similar goods or services offered by someone else. 

Trademarks are brands and copyright protects original creative works. While the two are related, they are covered by different regulations and handled by different federal offices:  trademarks by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) and copyright by the U.S. Copyright Office.

Copyright/Trademark Resources

Permissions have to be sought for use of copyrighted materials and generally, College Archives & Special Collections and Library staff can assist in such searches.There are some online creator search tools that may also prove helpful and links to informational sites related to the two functions listed below.

Copyright Law of the United States & Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code

Copyright Catalog, United States Copyright Office 

Copyright Small Claims and the Copyright Claims Board (CASE Act)

WATCH (Women, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders) 

Firms Out of Business 

Copyright Alliance-Find a Copyright Owner List

U.S. Patent &Trademark Office Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)

 Basic Fact About Trademarks Videos

Library Database Resources for Classroom/Canvas Use

Library Research Guide: Databases by Subject

Library Research Guide: Database Tutorials


Fair Use

Fair Use

Fair use applies to both print and digital content and allows copyrighted works to be used in special instances, such as teaching and scholarship, generally tested against these four factors:

  • purpose and character of use
  • nature of the work used
  • amount of the work used
  • effect on the market or value of the work 

The resources section includes checklists and evaluation tools to assist in determining fair use for in-person, classroom use. 


The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH) was intended to update copyright law, revising the U.S. Copyright Act, section 110(2) for transmitting performance and copyrighted materials in distance learning and remote instruction activities by accreditated, nonprofit educational institutions. The requirements for instructors under this Act requires use of technology to reasonable access to:

  • copyrighted works to students currently enrolled in the class
  • only for the time period necessary to complete the class session
  • prevent further copying of copyrighted works
  • prevent further distribution of copyrighted works

Fair Use/TEACH Act Resources

Assists in determining whether work under copyright can be considered fair use.


Penn State Fair Use Checklist

Cornell Checklist for Conducting A Fair Use Analysis

Library Copyright Fair Use Evaluator

Exceptions for Instructors in U.S. Copyright Law

U.S. Copyright Office Information on Fair Use

U.S. Code, section 107: Fair Use Law and Notes

Art Libraries Society of North America: Fair Use in the Visual Arts: Lesson Plans for Librarians


Louisiana State TEACH Act Toolkit

LSU TEACH Act Checklist

Arizona State University TEACH Act Checklist

TEACH Information 

ALA Requirements of TEACH

University of Connecticut-TEACH Act Information

Library of Congress-TEACHing From a Distance

ALA/Considering Copyright During a Crisis


Creative Commons

Creative Commons

A non-profit organization offering creators of new work a standardized and simple way to grant certain copyright permissions, thus making work available for use by others before the end of the standard copyright term.  Such permissions are spelled out in the licenses creators choose that determine how their work can be used. 

These Creative Commons licenses help creators retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make certain non-commercial uses of their work while still being credited for their work - while adhering to copyright law.

It also offers tools for creators who wish to make the work available in the Public Domain, those who do not want their work bound by copyright restrictions.

Creative Commons Tools

Creative Commons License Explanation

Creative Commons Public Domain Information


Public Domain

Public Domain

When the creative works that had been protected under copyright were never covered or no longer covered by U.S. Copyright Law, they pass into the public domain, which means the works now belong to the public and can be freely used without having to obtain permission.

There are several ways works may enter the public domain:

  • Term of copyright expired
  • Work was produced by the U.S. Federal Government
  • Work isn't tangible or affixed (written or recorded in some way)
  • Work was published without a copyright notice before March 1, 1989
  • Work was unpublished and either the time period the work was produced and/or the lifetime of creator plus additional years of coverage has passed
  • The work is not deemed sufficiently original (procedures, basic math, lists, etc.)

Public Domain Resources

 Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States 

 U.S. Copyright Office-Duration of Copyright

Creative Commons Public Domain Information 

The Public Domain Review

 Library Research Guide: Open Resources


Music Copyright

Legally using music in a public performance, online, or broadcast, involves an agreement between the owner of the copyrighted music and the person who wants to use it. This agreement is called a license.

Copyrighted works used under Fair Use and works in the Public Domain are two exceptions. In the case of Fair Use, four determining factors help determine if the use of the copyrighted work has been met.

Music rights are complex, including definitions. To understand the topic more fully:

  • Musical Work: the underlying song as written by the composer or songwriter (including lyrics).

  • Sound Recording: a specific recording of a performance of a musical work that often is protected by copyright.  Example: A Natural Woman is a 'musical work' written by Carole King and Aretha Franklin's recorded performance of the song  is a 'sound recording'.

The Music Moderization Act of 2018 changed copyright law for sound recordings under federal law to 95 years from date of first publication plus an additional time of 3 to 15 years for a transition period. As example, sound recordings published before 1923 enter the public domain January 1, 2022 (including a 3 year transition period). And, previously unpublished sound recordings are copyright protected until February 15, 2067.  This law provides federal protection for sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972; previous to this new federal law, state laws had applied to sound recording copyright. 


Music Modernization Act in 2 Minutes - video from US Copyright Office

Music Modernization Act - resources from the US Copyright Office

U.S. Copyright Office Circulars

Use of Copyrighted Music on College and University Campuses


Music Copyright Holder Resources

American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP)/ ACE Repertory: search for U.S. songwriters, publishers, composers

Society of European Stage Authors & Composers (SESAC) Repertory: search for composers, songwriters, publishers 

Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) Repertoire: search for songwriters, composers, publishers, & musical works



Copyright Flexibilities in Latin America:  a map offering information about the use of copyrighted materials in Latin America.. 

ReCreating Europe Project: a project to develop a map about the use of copyrighted materials in Europe.

Global Expert Network on Copyright Exceptions: Comparing Research Exceptions for Text and Data Mining map

GCIP Global Congress on Intellectual Property: videos from webinars on several copyright and IP topics from conferences held around the world.





Copyright Awareness Team

A group of Columbia College Chicago faculty and staff whose purpose is to:        

  • Serve as a campus resource
  • Compile existing copyright resources
  • Guide copyright questions to appropriate campus parties

Copyright, especially fair use, questions have routinely been asked on campus and the move to remote instruction brings with it additional questions about using copyrighted materials. This group helps faculty, staff, and students channel questions to appropriate campus resources for answers and offers trusted information on existing copyright resources.

 Current campus team members are:

  • Loren Wells, Associate Professor of Instruction, Business & Entrepreneur
  • Michael Caplan, Associate Professor, Cinema and Televison Arts
  • Dolores Marek, Director of Academic Technology, Information Technology
  • Dennis McGuire, Associate Library Director
  • Jennifer Sauzer, Head, Access Services & Assessment, Library
  • Victoria Lewis, Course Reserves, Access Services, Library
  • Kim Hale, Academic Engagement Librarian, Library
  • Hillary Ostermiller, Instruction & Online Learning Librarian, Library
  • Lauren Noel, Catalog Librarian, Library
  • Michelle Ferguson, Assistant to the Director, Library
  • Heidi Marshall, Head, Archives & Special Collections, Library