Reviewed by Senior Campus Counsel - UCLA on October 1, 2010.
Welcome to the UCLA School of Law, Law Library's Copyright Guidelines! We hope that you will find the information presented herein helpful in the compilation of materials for your teaching and research needs. We begin this guide by outlining a few copyright basics, such as the doctrine of fair use. The remaining tabs provide guidance on the application of the doctrine of fair use to several common uses of copyrighted works at the law school, as well as on the process of seeking the permission of a copyright holder to use a copyrighted work, where a proposed use does not constitute fair use or fall within any other copyright exception. We, of course, welcome all comments and suggestions related to this guide. Thank you for visiting!
Please visit the MyLaw tab herein, which includes important updates to guidelines concerning course reserves and information about features in MyLaw that can help facilitiate copyright compliance.
What types of works are entitled to copyright protection?
Copyright protection extends to "original works of authorship" that are "fixed in any tangible medium of expression." "Original works of authorship" include most of the things we read, view or hear in the classroom, such as: books, journals, movies, art, music, and content posted on the Internet. Copyright protection does not extend to ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, or discoveries, regardless of the forms in which they are described, illustrated or embodied in a work.
What rights are held by the owner of a copyright?
Ownership of a copyright confers a bundle of exclusive rights upon an owner for a limited duration. This bundle of exclusive rights includes the right to reproduce the work, to distribute the work, to make derivatives of the work, or to perform or display the work, as well as the right to authorize the exercise of the aforementioned rights by others. A major limitation on these exclusive rights, however, is the doctrine of "fair use."
The doctrine of fair use is an affirmative defense to a claim of copyright infringement that aims to balance the equally important interests of owners and users. When established, fair use permits certain limited uses of copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright owner, such as for educational or research purposes.
What factors are considered to determine whether a proposed use of a copyrighted work constitutes fair use?
To determine whether the reproduction of a copyrighted work is fair use within the meaning of the Copyright Act, consideration of each of the following factors must be made:
Each of the foregoing factors must be considered in every instance in which copyrighted works are used without the express permission of the copyright holder, regardless of whether the use is made in a paper or electronic environment. Thus, the doctrine of fair use must be considered when we photocopy materials for classroom or research use, upload materials into MyLaw, paste materials into teaching tools such as PowerPoint, place copies of materials on library reserve, and share materials through interlibrary loan without the permission of the copyright holder. The following pages will provide guidance on the application of the doctrine of fair use to several of these common uses of copyrighted works. Guidance is also provided on the process of seeking the permission of a copyright holder to use a copyrighted work.
For the convenience of faculty members compiling materials for their courses or research, a simple, interactive "Fair Use Checklist" is attached to this guide (see the second box to the left). Once completed for each copyrighted work, the Checklist may be emailed or printed for retention in the preparer's records.
For a humorous overview of the doctrine of fair use, please enjoy Professor Eric Faden's "A Fair(y) Use Tale" that is featured on the second page of this guide.
Are there any other scenarios in which I may use a work without permission?
Yes. For instance, works with expired copyrights (works that have fallen into the public domain) or open access works (that have no restrictions on reuse rights) may be reproduced without restriction. Certain federal government publications may be also reproduced without restriction. As noted above, works that are not copyrightable (such as works consisting solely of procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, or discoveries) may also be reproduced without restriction. And, of course, faculty members who wish to reproduce works for which they own the copyright may do so freely.
Several popular online resources for locating works in the public domain or open access works are featured in a box on the left side of this page entitled "Resources for Public Domain and Open Access Works." Please review the terms and conditions of each site before using any featured materials.