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MUSC Copyright Toolkit

What You Need to Know

Copyright is the law that guarantees to the author or creator of an original work, certain rights in regard to the use and dissemination of that work. In the United States, the copyright law is spelled out in Title 17 of the U.S. Constitution. The law was substantially amended in 1998 with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It was further updated in 2002 with the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act & Distance Education) to reflect the increasing use of technology for both classroom teaching and distance education. The copyright laws reflect a complex balance of the rights of the author/creator of a published or unpublished work and the public interest in the development of knowledge.

Fair Use is an important copyright concept for educators who use copyrighted works in their teaching. The Fair Use doctrine allows, under certain circumstances, the copying and distribution of copyrighted material without first getting the permission of the copyright holder. If a use falls outside the fair use guidelines, permission often must be requested and received from the copyright holder to be lawful.

Understanding and complying with the laws governing the use of copyrighted materials is daunting. The information on this site is directed at teaching faculty, students, scientific writers, researchers, and others at MUSC who use copyrighted works. It includes Copyright @ MUSC: Policies, Forms, & Resources, forms, and information about Coursepacks, Plagiarism and How to Cite Sources, releases, Images/Multimedia and text, and print and digital/online resources. Many of the links lead to the excellent copyright Websites of other universities.

Copyright Office free phone service
Have a copyright/fair use question? You can call the US Copyright Office 800 number, push 3 and get a human being copyright expert!
Copyright Renewal Database for US Books
(Stanford University)
This database makes searchable the copyright renewal records received by the US Copyright Office between 1950 and 1992 for books published in the US between 1923 and 1963. Note that the database includes ONLY US Class A (book) renewals.
The Copyright Site
Copyright information for educators.