Copyright & Fair Use

The Cal State Fullerton Guide to Understanding Copyright & Fair Use.

CSUF Copyright Statement

California State University Fullerton

Copyright Statement


As the legal and ethical distribution of intellectual property is a fundamental component of education, all members of the CSUF academic community are expected to respect copyright law and to model responsible behavior when distributing materials to students.

Copyright, under Title 17 of the U.S. Code, begins at the moment of creation and thereby, provides incentive for creation and innovation. CSUF Faculty retain copyright for their research and course materials they create. To enjoy the privilege of copyright, it is necessary to respect the copyright of other authors.

When using a course management system, it is the responsibility of the individual faculty member to determine the legality of distributing materials protected by copyright. While the law does not make a distinction between electronic and paper, its requirements for different media can vary. As a result, distributing films, music, and other formats can create unique circumstances.

Copyright has a time limit, after which, the information is free to be transformed and distributed in any way necessary. This temporal limit is known as the public domain and is generally applicable to anything published before 1923. U.S. Federal publications are also in the public domain.

Many online materials are available through a  Creative Commons license. While not everything in the commons is open to redistribution, Creative Commons enables many authors to allow public use of their works, with attribution, in non-profit ways.

As often as possible, materials should be distributed by linking to the  Pollak Library databases. The Pollak Library dedicates a considerable amount of its budget to license articles and electronic e-books for the use of the campus community. Linking allows the library to track usage of these materials; subscriptions that do not receive a significant amount of hits are subject to cancellation.

Often, when considering whether it is lawful to distribute materials, a fair use analysis is necessary. Fair use (Section 107) is an exception to copyright that allows for sharing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s permission.  Each piece of information requires a specific assessment. Using a fair use checklist can often help make the decision easier.

Whenever a claim of fair use is made, materials must be clearly attributed with a copyright notice. In addition to proper attribution, these works must be accessible only to enrolled students behind a password protected site and only for a limited time.

Using the same article repeatedly, semester after semester, will typically have a significant effect on the market for that work. In these, and other pertinent cases, permission can be sought directly with the copyright holder, through the  Copyright Clearance Center, or by simply placing the material in a coursepack through the  Titan Shops Bookstore. All articles distributed through Titan Shops  coursepacks are cleared for copyright before distribution. We never want to pay twice for the same article; please insure that the materials are not available in the Library’s electronic databases before placing them in a coursepack.

If you have any questions about this statement or any general copyright inquries, please contact  Anthony Davis Jr., Copyright & Policy Librarian.